GDPR: Can you email an individual at a business?

  • As the live date for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gets ever closer, people are beginning to realise the scale and the impact it could have on their business. On the face of it, the GDPR is quite clear - you must get the explicit consent of individuals in order to communicate with them. However, in the B2B world, this isn’t quite as clear. Many are still wondering whether they can email businesses that haven’t explicitly opted-in, after 25th May 2018.

    Back in January, it was revealed that B2B marketers could indeed email businesses, thanks to a rare U-turn from the EU. However, “the change of heart” still left those in the B2B community wondering if they were allowed to email individuals at a business, e.g., or just the business email address, e.g.

    Well, we can confirm that as of publishing this blog post, you can send an email to an individual’s business email address, as long as you provide a clear and easy way for them to opt-out. This effectively means that GDPR does not differ to the existing Data Protection Act in regards to B2B.

    The ICO, which is responsible for upholding GDPR in the UK, say this in its direct marketing guidance: “These rules on consent, the soft opt-in and the right to opt out do not apply to electronic marketing messages sent to ‘corporate subscribers’  …… The only requirement is that the sender must identify itself and provide contact details."

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    Furthermore, the ICO’s direct marketing checklist reveals that as long as “individual employees can opt out” than you can email them, without a confirmed opt-in.

    Lead Forensics, a B2B lead generation software tool, have also confirmed that it’s their understanding that you can continue to email individuals at a business.

    As GDPR draws closer, more and more questions are going to be asked about exactly what you can and cannot do, and we’ll be answering them. If you have a burning GDPR question, but can’t find the answer through the minefield of information already out there, tweet us @themarketingeye and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

    Note: The ability to email an individual at a business, as outlined in this blog post, does not apply to sole traders and some partnerships. If you are unsure about how to market to these types of businesses, please refer to the ICO website.

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