Email Marketing Consent: Protecting Your Customers and Your Business

Kristy Gouldsmith
30 January 2023

Email marketing is an important tool for businesses to reach out to customers with targeted messages and offers. However, as with any form of marketing, there are certain regulations and best practices that must be followed to ensure compliance. One of the most important considerations in email marketing is consent. 

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) recently fined Halfords Limited for violating the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) after they sent an email regarding a government bike repair scheme to over half a million customers who had never opted-in to receive marketing emails. Halfords had argued that their email was a service message, rather than a direct marketing email, however the ICO did not agree, stating that the email had also contained promotional material. 

Similar fines have also been handed out to other businesses, where they have included marketing information in with a service email and sent it out to customers who have not consented (via opt-in) to receiving them. 

So how do you ensure that you follow the regulations when sending marketing emails? 

It is imperative to recognise the difference between what constitutes a service email and what forms a marketing email. Service emails are sent as part of a customer’s contract with you, for example, account access updates or billing information. Anything outside of that and pertaining to services, offers or sales can be classified as marketing and requires the customer to have opted in to receive them. 


Kristy Gouldsmith
Partner - Data Protection, Privacy and Cybersecurity
Kristy Gouldsmith is a Partner Solicitor at Spencer West. She has years of experience in advising a wide variety of organisations across all sectors, including SaaS platforms, retailers, manufacturers, schools, care homes, financial services, law firms and property developers.