If you ever doubted 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 categorically 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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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 have a permission.
For example, if someone shared their business card at a conference with you, you can later transfer this detail to your digital records.
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."
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-weeks free trial here!