cold emailing

GDPR and cold emailing: 7 tips to make your cold outreach GDPR compliant

Mihaela Cicvaric
LAST UPDATED
April 10, 2024
READING TIME
7 min.

If you everhesitate before sending that cold email because you weren’t sure it’s even legal to do cold outreach - you’re not alone.

There's a huge misconception that cold emailing isn’t aligned with GDPR regulations.

GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation, a European Union directive designed to protect the personal data of EU citizens.

And yes, it does cover email outreach.

But nowhere does it state that cold emailing is illegal. It’s all about how you do it.

In this article, we'll clear up the myth around GDPR and cold emailing and give you actionable tips on sending cold emails that are 100% legal.

What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation.

It's a regulation by the European Union (EU) that regulates how personal data of EU citizens is collected, used, and protected by organizations operating within the EU or targeting individuals in the EU.

The regulation outlines requirements for organizations on how they handle personal data.

This is what you need to know about GDPR:

  • It focuses on individual privacy: The core principle of GDPR is to empower EU citizens with control over their personal data. It grants them rights to access, rectify, erase, and restrict the processing of their data.
  • It's wide in scope: GDPR applies to any organization processing the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of the organization's location. So, even businesses outside the EU must comply if they offer goods or services to EU residents or monitor their behavior online (e.g., through website cookies).
  • It doesn't ban cold emails. Contrary to popular myth, GDPR only dictates how businesses collect and process personal data for outreach purposes. Use our 7 proven tips below to ensure your cold outreach campaign is GDPR compliant.

7 tips to making your cold outreach GDPR compliant

Tip #1: Have a clear purpose & legitimate interest

Before hitting that send button, ask yourself why you’re sending this email.

Under GDPR you need a clear purpose for processing personal data - this could be a legitimate business interest.

But remember, just wanting to sell something doesn't make it a “legitimate interest”.

Instead, ensure your outreach aligns with the recipient's profession or role and can benefit your recipient.

For example, if reaching out to a tech manager, discuss something to help him streamline his dev team processes and make his life easier.

Tip #2: Be transparent about who you are

Always make sure the recipient knows who you are.

This means no hidden sender details. Be clear about your identity and the company you represent.

For example, you don’t have to waste your email’s content on talking about yourself - but have a clear signature, include links to your socials, and have a self-explanatory email address.

Tip #3: Provide an Opt-out option

Always offer an easy way for the recipient to opt out or unsubscribe from your emails.

If they opt out, ensure you never email them again.

For example, include a line at the bottom of your email, such as: "Not interested? Click here to stop receiving emails like this one”

Tip #4: Store your prospects’ data safely

If you’re storing email addresses or any other data, you must ensure it’s secure.

Invest in security measures to prevent data breaches.

For example, encrypt your email list or use secure CRM platforms like Salesforce, which offer data protection measures.

Tip #5: Regularly update your database

Keep your email list clean and up-to-date. Regularly check for bounces, out-of-office replies, or any other indicator that your emails are unwanted.

For example, dedicate one day a month to filter out bounced emails and ensure opted out prospects aren’t receiving your emails.

Tip #6: Keep proof of how you got someone’s data

If someone has shared publicly their email address (at a conference, online, or in person), always keep a record of this. It’s your proof of consent, and under GDPR, it proves you have permission.

For example, if someone shared their business card at a conference with you, you can later transfer this detail to your digital records.

Tip #7: Use double Opt-in

This isn’t mandatory under GDPR, but it’s a good practice.

A double opt-in ensures that the person really wants to hear from you, reducing the chances of any compliance issues later on.

For example, after someone shows initial interest, send a follow-up email: "Thanks for connecting! Confirm your interest by clicking here."

Key takeaways

You can send cold emails and stay compliant - it's all about the approach.

GDPR doesn't say "Don't send cold emails". It says, "If you send cold emails, respect personal data, and have clear reasons for outreach".

Steps like clear communication, keeping minimal data, and offering easy opt-out options are simple yet effective ways to remain compliant.

P.S. lemlist users can certify that their prospects' data will be collected under GDPR, straight from their outreach app. If you want to grow your business with cold emails while avoiding legal troubles, start your 2-week free trial here!

Mihaela Cicvaric
Content Marketing Manager @ lempire | Sharing everything you need to get replies to your cold emails
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