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Email automation: Have privacy laws neutered it as a channel?

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Email automation can streamline your sales process and ensure that recipients receive the most effective message at the right time. But is the time of email automation over?

As privacy laws evolve worldwide, is it even still possible to use automated emails as a marketing tool? We have the answers below.

What is email automation?

Email automation means sending emails automatically at specific times. You can decide when you want to send the emails, and who you want to receive them.

  • Automated emails rely on predefined rules, or “triggers”. Once there’s a trigger, the system sends the emails.

  • When you automate emails, you can reach specific customers and send them targeted messages.

  • Once you set up automated emails, there’s no need to do anything else. You can relax knowing that your marketing emails will land in your recipients’ inboxes at the right time.

In short, after you set up email automation, you can focus on growing your business rather than customizing emails.

Email automation uses

There are many reasons you might automate emails. However, automated emails truly shine as a marketing tool.

In fact, automated emails open the door to a whole new level of marketing. It transforms how businesses communicate with customers. Here are just some examples of how marketers make email automation work for them.

  • Abandoned cart notifications: If a prospect doesn’t complete checkout, you can remind them what they’ve left behind.

  • Cross-sell notifications: When a consumer buys one good or service, you can recommend a related product they might be interested in.

  • Loyalty incentives: Reward regular customers with loyalty incentives, such as discounts on their next purchase.

  • Recover old clients: Not seen a once-loyal customer around in a while? Tell those customers you miss them and offer incentives for coming back.

What are the benefits of automated email marketing?

Now we’ve covered how you can use email marketing automation, let’s consider why it’s such a helpful tool to have in your toolbox.

Improved customer experience

With so much competition out there in every sector, it’s easy to walk away from a brand if the experience doesn’t meet our expectations.

Automated emails help you exceed those expectations by anticipating customer needs and wants. Give your customers – and prospective customers – what they need before they ask for it, and you’re one step closer to building solid, lucrative relationships.

Increased workflow efficiency  

When you automate emails, you give your marketing team the space they need to thrive. To get creative, brainstorm innovative campaigns and help you grow your business.  

You free up the most important resource of all – time. Automate your workflows and streamline your operations without compromising on content quality.  

Enhanced customer retention 

Automated email marketing lets you segment your audience. It helps you get the right emails to the right recipients. What’s the outcome?  

You can entice back old customers with targeted emails, and even win new clients and secure their repeat business.   

The possibilities are endless. Automated emails pose a unique opportunity to capitalize on customer relationships.   

Potential challenges of email automation 

There are, of course, challenges to automated email marketing. After all, there are pros and cons to every marketing strategy. Below are the four most common challenges of email automation.  

Lack of personalization  

Just like your email signature, a good, automated email should be personalized. It should make the recipient feel valued. Without a carefully executed content strategy, there’s a risk that mass automated emails could be too impersonal to create value for your business. 

Decreased content relevance  

Effective email marketing requires a clear understanding of your goals and target audience. In other words, you need a content strategy. Don’t waste time sending irrelevant or outdated emails – focus on aligning your marketing emails with your overall business goals.  

Lower engagement rates  

Impersonal, irrelevant, or poor-quality emails won’t help you nurture those all-important customer relationships. Indeed, they may have the opposite effect – customers could hit the “unsubscribe” button or stop reading your emails. 

You can overcome this challenge by segmenting your customers effectively and sending quality emails based on accurate preferences.   

Poor content optimization

If marketing teams don’t preview automated emails before sending them, there’s a risk they won’t display correctly. Key content elements could be lost or broken.

Poorly optimized emails won’t help you nurture relationships with your target audience. Test every email before you hit “send”.

How does privacy law impact email automation?

There’s another possible issue with automated emails nowadays – privacy law.

Privacy laws give all of us more control over our personal data. We each have a say in how companies use, share, and store our details, from email addresses to telephone numbers. Leading global privacy laws include:

  • The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

  • Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA

  • California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CPA

These laws can, however, make email automation a little trickier. We don’t need to cover the specifics of each act, but here’s what they have in common, and why they affect email marketing.  

  • Businesses need lawful grounds for processing personal data. In other words, you need a reason for using any data you have – even if it’s just someone’s email address.  

  • Direct marketing can be considered a lawful ground for processing, but you still need someone’s express and informed consent to send marketing emails.  

  • Inactivity, or failure to opt out, isn’t considered true consent. If the privacy law in question requires you to get opt-in consent, this means the user must take positive action such as clicking a checkbox.  

  • Laws like the CAN-SPAM Act make it mandatory for businesses to flag commercial emails as advertising. This could, potentially, make recipients less likely to open your emails. 

  • You must make it super easy for subscribers or recipients to unsubscribe.

What matters though, is how businesses respond to the changing privacy landscape

How marketers can ensure their emails comply with privacy laws 

Non-compliance with privacy laws could prevent you from using email automation. However, automated email marketing as a strategy is far from over.  

In fact, implementing just a few simple steps will ensure you can use email marketing automation in the long term. Here’s how you can do just that. 

Comply with anti-spam and privacy laws in your area 

First, get to know which privacy and anti-spam laws apply to your business. It’s best to seek legal advice on this because the rules can be complex.  

For example, if you’re based in the US but have German customers, you must comply with the GDPR. This could mean getting express consent, directing customers to your privacy policy, and only using data for certain purposes.  

Include an unsubscribe option  

Whichever privacy laws apply, including an opt-out or unsubscribe button should be non-negotiable now.  

  • Include a clickable link in every email. 

  • Place the link or button somewhere obvious, like the email footer.  

Get express consent to marketing content  

You’ll often need express, affirmative, opt-in consent to marketing emails now. So, making a habit of asking for consent.  

For example, you might send an email confirming the customer gives consent to signing up to a mailing list. They won’t be signed up unless they click the link – this is an act of express consent. And if you haven’t heard from a customer in a while, you might send them an email asking them to update their details and confirm if they still want to hear from you.  

Getting express consent lets youand send automated emails with confidence.

Best practices for automated email marketing 

Before you send your next automated email, let’s briefly summarize some best practices to bear in mind.  

  • Spend time devising clear campaign goals. Know why you have personal data and how you plan on using it.  

  • Review content regularly to ensure you only send accurate, up-to-date emails.  

  • Check in with customers every now and then to ensure they’re still happy to receive marketing emails from you.  

  • Have clear options to opt-out or unsubscribe and include links to policies describing how you use personal data, such as your privacy policy.  

  • Segment your audience carefully – avoid sending irrelevant content.  

  • If there’s any doubt as to whether you have a legal basis for processing, check before you hit send.  

The future of automated email marketing  

Have privacy laws made automated emails history? Not at all. Automated email marketing is evolving. Just like your email signature, it’s highly adaptable and worth investing in. With some care and diligence, you can embrace the usefulness of automated emails for the foreseeable future.  

And to complement your email automation, why not leverage the power of your business emails, by finely tuning your signatures using Exclaimer?

Our leading email signature management platform allows you to discover a new marketing channel, and easily get customized messages in front of the people that matter.

Try Exclaimer now for free or contact us to learn more.  

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