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How does ‘Legitimate Interests’ work?

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Since GDPR went live back in May last year, there has been quite a bit interest in the term ‘Legitimate Interests’. This term has been used quite a bit with reference to email marketing.

But what is ‘Legitimate Interests’ and what does it mean?

We’ve seen lots of people saying that it means that you can email anybody that has a legitimate interest in knowing about your products and services.

The basic problem with that though is that it opens the door to the wholesale sending of spam. Surely everybody out there could argue that pretty much everyone on the face of the earth has a legitimate interest in receiving promotional emails, whether they want them or not.

The inclusion of this one phrase in GDPR seems to have turned the new law into a “Spammer’s Charter”. This logic can be used to make it ok to send unsolicited emails to anyone with an email address.

So it’s ok to send unsolicited business email, right?

For email marketing software suppliers, it’s business as usual. We don’t allow the sending of unsolicited email (spam) through our network. Nobody likes to receive a barrage of emails that they haven’t asked for.

As a form of marketing, sending unsolicited emails doesn’t work, typically it results in poor delivery, black listing and poor sender reputation.

So, whilst GDPR does say that you can use ‘Legitimate Interests’ to send unsolicited business emails, it really is best avoided as it doesn’t work and typically does more harm than good. Email marketing achieves great results by sending emails to people that have asked to receive them.

For more reading on email marketing, please read our guide to succesfull email marketing

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