Many marketers believe that developing and following marketing regulation is crucial for protecting brand reputation and ensuring compliance with legal restrictions and obligations.
The UK and US have some of the most stringent data protection laws in existence, which puts them ahead of the game when it comes to protecting brand reputation. However, despite the benefits that these legal requirements bring, they can also be extremely burdensome – especially for small businesses.
It’s well-known that the UK government has been looking into introducing a Digital Marketing Hub, which will provide entrepreneurs with the tools to grow their business without infringing on data protection law. This law will only get harder to follow as more companies transition to online marketing platforms, especially as many of these platforms are based overseas, where data protection legislation may not be as strict as it is in the UK.
In the meantime, the burden is on the entrepreneur to learn as much as they can about data protection, legal requirements, and best practices in order to grow their business successfully. In this article, we’ll explore the ways in which these laws impact UK and US businesses, focusing on email marketing.
What Is Email Marketing?
Put simply, email marketing is a form of marketing that involves sending emails to people with the aim of increasing sales. Typically, these emails contain promotional material related to products or services that the company offers. As well as boosting sales, some studies have shown that email marketing can increase brand awareness, develop customer relationship, and even drive revenue.
The first email marketing platforms were developed in the 1990s and have been around long enough for marketers to learn the tricks of the trade. Since then, the field has evolved significantly, with platforms being developed to handle complex campaigns and track marketing results. In 2021 alone, email marketing platforms generated over $14 billion in revenue.
The Challenges Facing Marketing Regulators In The UK
The UK has some of the most stringent data protection laws in existence, which puts it ahead of the game when it comes to protecting brand reputation and ensuring legal compliance. It’s well-known that the UK government has been looking into introducing a Digital Marketing Hub, which will provide entrepreneurs with the tools to grow their business without infringing on data protection law.
One of the reasons that the UK is leading the way on this front is that it doesn’t want to be left behind by companies posting online, especially as many of these companies are based overseas, where data protection laws may not be as strict as they are in the UK. As a result, the onus is on the business to learn as much as they can about data protection, legal requirements, and best practices in order to protect their brand reputation and ensure compliance with legal obligations.
It’s important to note that the UK government is also aware that smaller businesses may not always have the resources necessary to comply with these legal requirements, which is why they’re looking into providing support for SMEs (small and medium-sized businesses) via the Digital Marketing Hub. This scheme will give businesses the tools to market online, but it will also provide them with the assistance of a digital marketing expert, who can help them navigate the legal requirements and best practices for email marketing.
Are US Businesses Ready For Email Marketing?
It shouldn’t come as a great surprise that the US is also taking the lead when it comes to protecting brand reputation and ensuring legal compliance. After all, the country is a powerhouse when it comes to technological innovation, attracting many entrepreneurs and tech-savvy individuals who want to build new businesses or help existing ones grow. And what’s important is that these people want to do so legally.
It seems that US businesses are largely unaware of the pitfalls that they could encounter if they choose to market online, which means that they’re taking a big risk by doing so. However, as in the UK, the onus is on the business to learn as much as they can about data protection, legal requirements, and best practices in order to protect their brands and ensure compliance with legal obligations. Additionally, some US businesses may be operating in foreign countries, where data protection legislation could be different, and it’s imperative that they understand the implications of this.
The Pitfalls Of Email Marketing
It’s well-known that email marketing is a useful and effective form of marketing, but it’s also important to remember that not all email marketing is made equal. The UK and US governments, as well as marketing regulators such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), acknowledge this and maintain that not all email marketing needs to be treated the same. So, what are the pitfalls of email marketing, and how can businesses ensure that they’re not committing any infractions?
One of the biggest issues that businesses face is spam, which can result in significant damage to brand reputation. If consumers start seeing your company’s name on spam emails, it can affect your company’s credibility significantly. The best way to avoid this is by establishing a comprehensive email marketing strategy and sticking to it. This will help ensure that you’re not deviating from what is deemed to be ‘spamming’, which is defined as “the use of electronic messaging for commercial purposes without the consent of the recipient” under GDPR.
Another pitfall of email marketing is the law of inadvertent misrepresentation. This happens when a business accidentally discloses personal or sensitive information about a specific individual, resulting in that individual having to engage with the company to rectify the situation. In some instances, this can even amount to a data protection violation. So, it’s important to be careful about what information you include in your emails – especially when contacting potential customers, as well as existing customers via email.
What’s more, marketers should be particularly careful about what they write in their emails, as some companies will use this information to the detriment of their customers. In one famous case, an entrepreneur in California named Rick Rolled was sent two lawsuits by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission – the US analog of the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority) for sending emails that contained implied false claims regarding the effectiveness of their weight loss pills. He eventually settled both cases and paid a total of $500,000 in fines.
Include the right tone of voice When writing emails, as this can make a significant difference to how the recipient engages with your message. For example, surveys have shown that when communicating with potential customers in a ‘sales-y’ manner, they’re more likely to feel offended and shut down to the offer, rather than interested and engaged.
Avoid sending emails that are overly promotional. This may impress your customers initially, but it will also make them wary of your offers, as they perceive your to be an ‘ad’ disguised as ‘content’. Sending promotional emails is not only ineffective, it’s also a potential privacy violation. The key is to send emails that are useful and helpful to your customers, whilst being subtle enough to not seem like an annoying sales pitch.
How To Properly Use Email Marketing To Grow Your Business
The key to effective and legally compliant email marketing is in understanding how to use the platform correctly. To begin with, ensure that your email marketing is relevant to your target audience. After all, this is the person that you’re trying to engage with your email.
Additionally, send emails at times that are most convenient for your audience. Some people prefer to receive emails in the morning, whilst others want them to come at night, so ensuring your email is timed appropriately is key to engaging with your audience and creating a positive impact.
In terms of content, it’s important to keep your emails short and sweet. According to HubSpot, people generally scan email boxes for short, snappy little nuggets of content, rather than indulging in lengthy stories and dull blocks of text. As a general rule of thumb, anything under 100 words is ideal.
In terms of design and style, keep things simple yet elegant. After all, you’re not a professional marketer, you’re a business owner who just wants to make sure that their emails look presentable and don’t appear to be anything more than an advertisement.
Also, ensure that you adhere to whatever regulations and laws that your country and business operations operate under. This includes making sure that your emails don’t contain any pornographic images or language, or promote illegal activities.