One of the cool things I was reminded of at Insight, SparkPost’s annual user conference, is just how diverse the community of email pros really is.

One way that diversity is reflected is in the simple fact that email is a global medium. That globalization is remarkable, but it introduces its own set of challenges: understanding the needs of different markets, deciphering the code of international deliverability, and navigating the legal and regulatory frameworks that govern different jurisdictions.

privacy-hairball

We recently shared several best practices for sending email outside of North America in a webinar about international email marketing, but the shifting landscape of global email and data privacy regulations is complicated enough to warrant some extra attention. Lucky for us, an expert panel at Insight 2015 shared updates on several significant international email marketing and data privacy rules in Canada, the European Union, Australia, and Russia. Here are some of the highlights.

First off the blocks was Matthew Vernhout of Inbox Marketer, and an expert on Canadian anti-spam laws (CASL). He highlighted several dramatic enforcements of CASL violations, as well as changes to Canada’s Digital Privacy Act. As Matthew pointed out, CASL enforcements are becoming a significant issue in light of a recent, record CAD 30 million fine against the Avis Budget Group for what was judged to be misleading advertising in an email marketing campaign. One facet of the enforcements worth noting is that the Canadian authorities have been making a distinction between willful violations that warrant substantial administrative monetary penalties (AMP) and the inadvertent violations that fall instead under the lesser category of undertakings.

Next, Dennis Dayman of Return Path discussed the implications of a recent court decision invalidating the long-standing “safe harbor” provisions that govern data collected on European citizens, but stored in U.S. data centers. Although Dennis suggested that the sky may not be falling quite yet, he also was very up-front that the the full impact of this ruling remains to be seen, as it has the potential to upend current practices by many American Internet companies who operate in Europe.

James Koons of dotmailer reviewed the sometimes confusing state of affairs in Russia. Russian Federal Law 242 quite explicitly requires all data collected on citizens of the Russian Federation to be stored on servers within the country’s territory. However, James also noted that current penalties described by the law are so small in monetary terms as to suggest that some businesses may be tempted perform a cost-benefit analysis of compliance and fines. Additionally, he noted that there is some ambiguity about the regulations affecting extraterritorial data transfers, because Russia is a signatory to relevant European regulations that do allow transfer of data, as long as certain conditions are met.

Finally, Dean Maidment of Taguchi Digital Marketing covered updates to Australia’s wide-ranging privacy principles. The long and short of these regulations is that Australian citizens now have a far-reaching right to demand a copy of all data that makes an individual “reasonably identifiable,” and the Australian framework may well be interpreted very broadly. His advice to companies doing business in Australia is to be highly proactive about preparing for enforcement of this regulation—and to be ready for even more sweeping interpretations in the future.

With these ongoing changes to privacy and anti-spam laws around the world, it’s clear international email marketing requires careful planning before clicking the send button. The overview from these experts about key regulations that affect email and data collection programs is a great starting point for getting up to speed.

To learn more, be sure to check out our helpful webinars on international email marketing and CASL. And our friends at the Email Experience Council (EEC) have provided detail on several of these global regulations.

What else would you like to learn about topics like CASL and safe harbor? I’d love to hear from you!

—Brent
@brentsleeper

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It’s Marketing 101: getting the right message to the right customer at the right time. As marketers, we think about that in display advertising, we think about it in media placements, and of course we should think about it in email marketing, too.

international email

When it comes to marketing in different international markets, that rule applies doubly. But, let’s face it, for a lot of us, sending email outside of the U.S. and Canada is an intimidating prospect. Too many email marketers try to guess at the privacy regulations, ISP rules, language preferences, and even time zones of their customers. And some email marketers don’t even try. They either avoid international marketing like the plague or—even worse—they ride roughshod over these important issues.

Let’s make this real for a moment. Imagine living in China, and getting email alerts at all hours of the night because marketers in North America either overlook or don’t care about the fact that you’re trying to get some sleep. Would you really want to keep engaging with that company? No! In fact, this very issue has become such a problem that many Chinese ISPs have begun to limit the amount of messages they accept at certain times to avoid their customers being woken up by late-night emails.

So what are email marketers to do? A great place to start is “Your Passport to Global Email Marketing Success,” a recent webinar SparkPost hosted with Dennis Dayman of Return Path and our own Len Shneyder. Dennis and Len shared tried-and-true best practices and forward-looking ideas for sending email outside of North America. The webinar was chock full of great information, and I definitely encourage you to check it out.

I personally was struck by a few questions from the audience that came up during the webinar Q&A. Here’s my take on the what email marketers are asking about sending messages to markets around the world.

1. How do I deal with opt-outs internationally? Is there CAN-SPAM or something similar outside of the U.S.?

Yes. To start, there is CASL, Canada’s ground-breaking anti-spam legislation. You definitely need to read up on that if you are sending email to Canada. (It goes without saying that SparkPost has your back on this one. We recently hosted a fantastic webinar about the ins-and-outs of CASL.) CASL is significant, but many other countries have their own privacy regulations that also require opt-out, such like the EU Data protection directive. Long story short, do your research before you send!

2. How much time can pass between an opt-out request and when it should take effect?

In the world of relevant and modern marketing tools, opt-outs should take effect immediately. There is no reason for delay, and every email you send after a customer has opted out could be a serious black mark on the recipient’s view of your brand. Having said that, you are afforded a grace period of 10 days or so in many national email regulations (though details may vary).

3. What’s the best time of day and day of week to send emails? Does it vary country to country?

Test! Test! Test! We can’t emphasize this enough. There’s no such thing as the perfect time of day—your recipients change, demographics change, who’s receiving it changes, and the importance they attach to it changes. All these things change and are testable!

4. Do I really need to use double opt-in for an international email list?

Yes. Email best practices dictate that double opt-in or confirmed opt-in is the right thing to do. Remember that in many markets, both customer expectations and regulatory policies require much more diligence than the relatively laissez-faire approach to opt-in and list buying that some marketers have taken in the past.

5. How do I keep on top of the changes taking place around the world and different worldwide email regulations?

Several organizations are great resources for staying on top of email marketing best practices around the world. Every email marketer should start following their social media feeds or newsletters—or even consider joining them as a formal member.

Though sending email outside of North America takes care and awareness of audience expectations and international regulatory issues, with the right information, it can be done! Check out the resources I highlighted in this post, and you’ll have a great start to planning a successful international email marketing strategy.

What’s been your experience with international email marketing? I’d love to hear from you. And do check out our “Your Passport to Global Email Marketing Success” webinar. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.