Legally compliant e-mail marketing and newsletter dispatch

Legally compliant e-mail marketing and newsletter dispatch

There are requirements for email marketing. Numerous legal regulations must be observed in Germany for sending advertising messages or newsletters by electronic mail (e-mail). Last but not least, the Federal Data Protection Act and the European General Data Protection Regulation GDPR regulate legal issues and backgrounds. In this article you will find out where you can find the information you need to be able to design your e-mail marketing in a legally compliant manner.

E-mails remain an important medium in customer contact

There are currently more than 4.5 trillion e-mail accounts worldwide. 95% of all Internet users send emails – 91% check their inbox at least once a day.

Considerable numbers, aren’t they?

The medium of e-mail has a firm place in our everyday lives. It offers companies a point of contact that is close to prospects and desired customers. Almost ideal for marketing.

Good e-mail marketing is used to draw the attention of customers or potential customers to products and services that exactly match their challenges. This inspires prospects, new and existing customers, and strengthens customer loyalty. In the marketing mix of companies, but also in modern sales, e-mails are and will remain indispensable.

Laws are designed to protect people and their data

In recent years, legal requirements for legitimate email marketing have been tightened. At the latest with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation by the EU in May 2018, the protection and rights of users on the Internet and their personal data were further strengthened.

The opportunity for companies lies in the trustworthy handling of personal data from the sales potential. Data protection has been strengthened to stop unfair practices and spam. Legal conformity can be solved.  
The GDPR consists of seven points in which the adjustments to the regulation take effect.
These changes exist with regard to data processing:

  1. The consent of the person is required for the processing of personal data.
  2. Violations of data protection must be documented and reported.
  3. Data security and data economy are guaranteed.
  4. The regulation also applies to companies outside the EU that use Europe as a market.
  5. The data subject has the right to have the data deleted.
  6. Cloud services used are also subject to the GDPR. 
  7. Violations result in high fines and sanctions. 

There is a need for action in the case of obligations relating to customer data

In online marketing, the consent of the person concerned is always required for the use of personal customer data for advertising. German companies have been doing this for years, most of them since the BDSG amendment of 2012.

Caution is often required with old data, where addresses were either collected without observing the applicable requirements or acquired from third parties without the appropriate means of proof.
Unless they have already done so, the companies affected should carry out a data audit now at the latest in order to make their e-mail marketing legally secure , says attorney Michael Neuber, legal advisor to the Federal Association of the Digital Economy (BVDW).

Expert support

In 2020, the BVDW published a free whitepaper with specific recommendations for legally compliant e-mail marketing and sending newsletters. If they have not already done so, the BVDW advises companies to make the necessary adjustments for acquisition and customer contact. The guide explains the corresponding requirements for German companies for the use of customer data and the proper use of email marketing.

The free BVDW whitepaper covers important topics such as:

  • consents
  • Processing for the fulfillment of the contract
  • protection of legitimate interests
  • Legal Exceptions and Referral Marketing 
  • sender and subject
  • Withdrawal Management
  • tracking 
  • Consequences of legal violations

You can find the information on the BVDW website, at .


E-mail marketing and newsletters are urgently needed in modern marketing and sales. Legal conformity for the acquisition, storage and processing of data is a fundamental point, the fulfillment of which is required by laws and regulations. 

Anyone who wants to use this important medium in customer contact now and in the future should observe the legal requirements – not just to avoid penalties. Data security and personal protection are part of the demands that prospects and customers place on companies.

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