In the last couple of weeks, unwanted emails seem to have been on the rise. Either that, or I am hearing more complaints about the number of unwanted emails and messages people are receiving. Email marketing has become an essential tool for businesses to reach their target audience and promote their products or services. However, it is crucial to understand the importance of consent when engaging in email marketing campaigns. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of consent in email marketing, including when you need to ask for consent, the use of lead magnets, and the relevant UK legislation.

Obtaining Consent

When it comes to email marketing, obtaining consent from your subscribers is a fundamental requirement. Consent ensures that you have the legal basis to send marketing emails to individuals. In general, you must ask for explicit consent before adding someone to your email list. This means that individuals need to explicitly opt in and provide their consent to receive marketing communications from you.

Lead Magnets and Consent

A common strategy used in email marketing is the use of lead magnets. Lead magnets are valuable incentives that you offer to your website visitors in exchange for their email addresses. These can be in the form of e-books, whitepapers, exclusive content, or discounts. While lead magnets can be an effective way to grow your email list, it is important to ensure that you obtain proper consent from the subscribers who sign up through these lead magnets. This means putting the checkbox to consent before signing up and DO NOT link it to the download button. Saying they have to consent before they can download does not allow them to freely consent.

UK Legislation – GDPR and PECR

As we discussed in our blog ‘GDPR, Business and Social Media’, in the United Kingdom, email marketing is regulated by two key pieces of legislation – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). Under the GDPR, individuals have the right to control how their personal data, including their email addresses, is used. As a business, you must comply with the GDPR by obtaining explicit consent from individuals before sending them marketing emails.

The PECR specifically addresses electronic communications, including email marketing. It sets out rules regarding consent, privacy, and electronic communications. It is important to familiarise yourself with the requirements outlined in the PECR to ensure compliance with UK regulations.

What can I do if I receive unwanted emails?

If you believe you are being sent any electronic messages and you have not consented or that they are still sending you them after requesting to stop, report it to the ICO. Without reporting it, how do the ICO know it is happening and be able to take action? The more they are reported, the more evidence they have, and the more people complain, the more likely action will be taken. Click here to go to the ICO website and see how.


Email marketing is a powerful tool for businesses to engage with their audience and drive conversions. However, it is essential to prioritize consent in your email marketing efforts. Always obtain explicit consent from individuals before adding them to your email list, and be transparent about how their data will be used. Additionally, make sure to comply with the relevant UK legislation, such as the GDPR and PECR, to ensure you are adhering to legal requirements and protecting your subscribers’ rights.

By following best practices and respecting the importance of consent, you can build a strong and engaged email list while maintaining trust with your subscribers.

We have created a quick guide to email marketing and the regulations. Download your copy here