GDPR Compliance
Updated over a week ago

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital communication, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has emerged as a critical framework for safeguarding individual privacy. As businesses seek to connect with potential clients and customers through cold emailing, they face the challenge of aligning their strategies with the stringent regulations laid out by GDPR. In this article, we'll explore the key aspects of GDPR and how they intersect with cold emailing practices.

Please note that this post is a helpful guide to better understand GDPR, rather than official legal advice. Should you have any uncertainties about organizing your marketing activities in compliance with GDPR, we suggest reaching out to a lawyer for definitive answers and personalized assistance to ensure your GDPR compliance.

You should always check the local regulation of the people you’re sending email to.

Understanding GDPR:

GDPR, implemented in 2018, is a comprehensive data protection regulation designed to empower individuals and harmonize data privacy laws across the European Union (EU). Its primary focus is to give individuals control over their personal data and establish a standardized set of rules for businesses operating within the EU.

  • GDPR vs Cold Emailing

Cold emailing, a common strategy in B2B communication, involves reaching out to potential clients or customers who have not expressed prior interest in the products or services offered. While this method can be effective for lead generation, it must be executed with careful consideration of GDPR regulations to avoid legal consequences.

Key Considerations for GDPR Compliance in Cold Emailing:

  1. Lawful Basis for Processing:

    • GDPR requires a lawful basis for processing personal data. Consent is a commonly used basis, and cold emailing requires explicit consent from the recipients in some countries. Consent should be informed, specific, and freely given. Another lawful basis could be a legitimate interest for B2B communication related to the business of the receiver (see below for details about consent).

  2. Transparency and Information:

    • Businesses must be transparent about their identity and purpose when collecting data through cold emails. Providing clear information about data processing and giving recipients the option to opt out is crucial.

  3. Data Minimization:

    • GDPR emphasizes the principle of data minimization. Cold emails should only collect and process data that is necessary for the intended purpose. Unnecessary data collection is a violation of GDPR.

  4. Right to Access and Erasure:

    • Individuals under GDPR have the right to access their personal data held by businesses. Cold email campaigns should provide a straightforward mechanism for recipients to access, rectify, or erase their data.

  5. Data Security Measures:

    • Businesses engaging in cold emailing must implement robust security measures to protect the personal data collected. This includes encryption, access controls, and regular security assessments.

  6. International Data Transfers:

    • If cold emailing involves the transfer of data outside the EU, businesses must ensure that the recipient country provides an adequate level of data protection. Standard contractual clauses or other legal mechanisms may be necessary.

Best Practices for GDPR-Compliant Cold Emailing:

  1. Prioritize Consent:

    • Obtain explicit consent before sending cold emails is ideal. Clearly explain the purpose of data processing and allow recipients to opt in.

  2. Provide Opt-Out Options:

    • Include a visible and easily accessible option for recipients to opt out of further communications. Respect opt-out requests promptly.

  3. Regularly Update Consent:

    • Periodically review and update consent records to ensure ongoing compliance. If the purpose of data processing changes, seek renewed consent.

  4. Educate Teams:

    • Train teams involved in cold emailing on GDPR principles. Awareness and understanding among team members are crucial for maintaining compliance.

  • GDPR per country

Navigating GDPR regulations on a country-by-country basis introduces a unique dance of compliance for businesses operating in diverse European landscapes.

  1. Green Countries (Opt-Out):

    • Pros: No required consent step facilitates faster implementation with less legal risk.

    • Cons: Emails may struggle to attract attention and could be marked as spam.

    • Countries: Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

  2. Yellow Countries (Single Opt-In):

    • Pros: Familiarity due to opt-in process reduces the chance of emails being marked as spam.

    • Cons: Acquiring consent through a single opt-in makes email marketing more time-consuming.

    • Countries: Iceland, Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Luxembourg.

  3. Red Countries (Double Opt-In):

    • Pros: Recipients are familiar with the brand and potentially more engaged.

    • Cons: Double opt-in requires two positive actions, potentially deterring some recipients.

    • Countries: Germany and Switzerland.

How to Communicate with Green Countries:

The opt-out countries are the easiest to send B2B marketing communications to, with less risk of penalties. The B2B communication should be related to the business of the receiver. In this case, you can simply send marketing communications to any prospect and allow them to opt-out at any time if they wish. As an example, the United States is an opt-out country, complying with the CAN-SPAM Act.


  • The biggest advantage is that there is no required consent step, so an email strategy in these countries can be implemented faster, and with less risk of legal issues.

  • As long as they adhere to privacy requirements and offer a simple way to unsubscribe, email marketing in these countries is much easier.


  • Your emails could struggle to attract attention and are more likely to be marked as spam, which causes issues down the line for delivering more relevant email marketing content.

How to Communicate with Yellow Countries:

An example of another Yellow country outside of Europe is Canada, which adheres to anti-spam legislation known as CASL. CASL requires businesses sending email marketing in, from, or to Canada to get consent from the intended recipients before sending.


  • Recipients in Yellow countries will be more familiar with your business due to the opt-in process, which means less chance of your emails being marked as spam, and a higher probability of future emails being delivered.


  • Businesses cannot simply send emails to whoever they like and must instead acquire consent from intended recipients through a single opt-in, making email marketing communications more time-consuming.

How to Communicate with Red Countries:

While only two countries in the EU currently insist on these strict rules (Germany and Switzerland), they both make up a large chunk of the potential market, so it is important to know the rules when planning your email communications with them.

Double opt-in consent is required from anyone doing business in Germany and Switzerland, with the only exception being emails that have been sent to customers who have already purchased goods or services from the sender. In this case, the rule is that all communication must relate to the products or services that the recipient originally purchased, and the recipient must be clearly informed of their ability to opt-out at any time.


  • Every recipient of your email marketing communications has completed the double opt-in process, and so they are both familiar with your brand when you communicate, and potentially more engaged and willing to read about your offering.


  • Businesses require two positive actions to confirm that a recipient wants to hear from them, which can be both time-consuming and potentially off-putting for a lot of people, simply due to the added effort.

Before doing anything else, it’s important to research each individual country you intend to send email marketing communications to so you are familiar with their nuances and laws when it comes to marketing in this area of the EU, as every country is different. Remember that GDPR regulations are not a suggestion; they are the law and must be complied with by all, so thorough research and an understanding of the rules are crucial when implementing an email strategy in EU countries.

  • GDPR vs lemlist

lemlist is committed to ensuring compliance with GDPR regulations, prioritizing the privacy and data protection of its users and their contacts. Here are some ways lemlist maintains GDPR compliance:

  1. Data Security: lemlist employs robust security measures to safeguard user data, including encryption, access controls, and routine security assessments.

  2. Public Information Only: lemlist's database contains only publicly available information sourced from LinkedIn public pages. It excludes sensitive details like email addresses and phone numbers.

  3. Consent Mechanism: Users leveraging lemlist's database through credits for contact export explicitly agree to comply with lemlist's privacy and sending policies. This includes providing recipients the opportunity to unsubscribe from the database.

  4. Transparent Practices: lemlist maintains transparency in its data processing practices. Users are informed about the methods used, such as credit-based exports, and the techniques employed to find contact information.

  5. Opt-Out Mechanism: Individuals included in lemlist's database have the right to opt-out by contacting lemlist's privacy address directly or reaching out to the Lemlist user who possesses their information. Also, each user has the option to easily insert an opt-out link.

  6. Privacy Policy Compliance: Users are required to adhere to lemlist's privacy policy and sending policy when utilizing credits for contact exports, ensuring alignment with GDPR principles.

By incorporating these measures, lemlist aims to provide a GDPR-compliant environment, enabling businesses to engage in effective email outreach while respecting individual privacy rights and regulatory requirements.

lemlist users can certify that their prospects' data will be collected under GDPR, straight from their outreach app.

  • GDPR vs lemlist database

lemlist's database is a collection of publicly available information from LinkedIn profiles. This includes details such as names, current and past positions, and company names. However, it's important to note that our database does not include email addresses or phone numbers.

How Does lemlist Use this Information?

At lemlist, we respect individual privacy rights and strive to adhere to GDPR regulations. This means that we do not send information to individuals in our database without their direct consent and the presence of their contact information. This ensures that our users can confidently and securely use our platform to connect with potential contacts.

Can individuals opt-out of lemlist's Database?

Yes, individuals have the right to opt-out of lemlist's database. If you would like to remove your information, you can reach out to our privacy address or contact the specific lemlist user who possesses your information.

We take opt-outs seriously and will promptly remove any requested information from our database.

How Does lemlist Populate Information in the Database using the Enrichment option?

To use credits and export your contacts from lemlist's database, you are essentially asking lemlist to search for the contact information of the person you need. This allows you to easily gather the email addresses of potential leads or clients. Lemlist uses a variety of techniques to obtain the requested contact information. For example, if we know that a particular company typically formats their email addresses as [email protected], we will use that format and test it to see if it returns a valid email address. Additionally, we may reach out to our partners to see if they have any additional contact information on file for the specific person or company. These methods are non-intrusive and align with our commitment to respecting individual privacy rights.

Additionally, lemlist acts as a data processor in the process of exporting contacts. This means that we only share information with permission from our users and in accordance with our privacy and sending policies.

In Summary

lemlist's database exclusively consists of publicly available information from LinkedIn profiles. We do not include email addresses or phone numbers in our database. Individuals can opt-out of our database at any time by contacting our privacy address or the specific lemlist user who possesses their information. We respect individual privacy rights and adhere to GDPR regulations by using non-intrusive methods to populate our database.


In the era of GDPR, businesses engaging in cold emailing must navigate a complex regulatory landscape to build effective and lawful communication strategies. By prioritizing consent, transparency, and data protection measures, businesses can strike a balance between effective outreach and compliance with GDPR, fostering trust with their audience while minimizing legal risks. As technology and regulations continue to evolve, staying informed and adapting cold emailing practices accordingly is essential for sustainable and GDPR-compliant communication strategies.

We are excited to share with you our carefully crafted GDPR 8 golden rules that can greatly assist with your cold email outreach. Let us lend a hand in making your outreach efforts a success!

Disclaimer: Apart from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), there are other laws and regulations that may impact cold email outreach. It's essential to be aware of these regulations to ensure compliance. It's crucial to note that laws can vary between countries, and staying informed about the specific regulations in the target countries of your email outreach is essential. Consulting with legal professionals familiar with the specific jurisdiction can provide tailored advice based on the latest legal developments.

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