How to Make Your Newsletter GDPR-Compliant

Carmen Cichon 10/22/2021

We show you how to implement the GDPR in newsletters and which tools can support you in this process.

Table of contents
  1. What is the GDPR?
  2. Why GDPR is important for creating newsletters
  3. Important requirements for GDPR-compliant newsletters
  4. Creating GDPR-compliant newsletters with these tools
  5. How to make a GDPR-compliant newsletter
  6. Conclusion

A crucial component of email marketing is the distributor, to whose recipients you regularly send your newsletters. Without an increase in subscribers, your target group cannot expand or shape itself. Thus, the storage of email addresses is a fundamental prerequisite for successful email marketing.

When working with personal data, you cannot avoid the topic of data protection. Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced across Europe in May 2018, you need to take into account several aspects when it comes to email marketing. In this blog post, we'll show you step by step how to create a GDPR-compliant newsletter and which tools can support you. Also, you will read about what a newsletter tool should bring along for successful data protection.

Recommended E-Mail-Marketing-Softwares

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What is the GDPR?

The abbreviation GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation. It is a series of laws that apply to all companies within the EU. The goal behind the GDPR is to guarantee the protection of individual privacy rights. This means that all information about location, gender or email address of each individual can only be collected with the person's consent and can be revoked at any time.

Even in email marketing, you need to consider these minimum data protection standards to play it safe. If you don't comply, you may face legal warnings or fines at worst.

The General Data Protection Regulation applies both to the operators of a website or an online shop and to private individuals who operate email marketing newsletters for non-commercial reasons. Therefore, everyone should deal with the GDPR. We will now show you what important role exactly it plays in email marketing.

Why GDPR is important for creating newsletters

Email marketing can only be activated with personal addresses, such as email addresses and names. Since you are also dealing with personal data in this area, you need to absolutely observe the provisions of the GDPR in order to be legally covered.

As soon as you operate a website, you are obligated to obtain the consent of your users to store their personal data and thus comply with data protection for your newsletters. Your users must be informed in detail that you are storing their data and using it to send your newsletters.

Several rulings of the European Court of Justice highlight how serious data protection has become for newsletter distribution. One example is the ruling that data can only be transferred to third countries if personal data is adequately protected there. You should therefore handle the data of your recipients with care both at the European level and internationally. This will help you avoid warnings, expensive penalties, and a dishonest reputation for your company.

Important requirements for GDPR-compliant newsletters

Some newsletter tools offer you support in dealing with the GDPR, for example through the integration of double opt-in procedures or registration forms. For this, some requirements are important that a newsletter tool should bring along:

  • Server location and data storage in the EU: Newsletter softwares that do not have a base in the EU have major deficits in terms of data protection.
  • Email address as the only mandatory field when subscribing to the newsletter: To ensure the protection of your recipient data, you may only mark the entry for the email address as mandatory in the newsletter registration form. Additional personal data such as name, age, place of residence, etc. may only be requested in optional fields, so that there is the opportunity for users to subscribe to the newsletter anonymously.
  • Contract for Order Processing (COP): Since a newsletter tool has access to your recipient data, a so-called Contract for Order Processing must be concluded between you and the software provider. Your newsletter recipients must also be informed in the terms and conditions that an external newsletter software is used for sending promotional emails. For this purpose, integrate a reference to the terms and conditions in the newsletter registration form.
  • Data Protection Declaration: If a newsletter registration form is embedded on your website, it must contain a reference to the data protection declaration, which should be extended accordingly. Important information for the data protection statement is: Which personal data is collected? Why is the data being collected? Which newsletter software is used for shipping? A 100% GDPR-compliant tool should allow you to easily integrate these components into your registration form. Optionally, you should also be able to add your own data protection components and expand the registration form with a checkbox for consent to receive the newsletter. This means your recipients must first consent to data processing before they can be included in the distributor. According to the GDPR, you also need to indicate what the data is collected for here.
  • Double Opt-in procedure: According to the GDPR, newsletter recipients must have actively and explicitly consented to the processing of their personal data and receiving the newsletter. While the double opt-in procedure is not mandatory, it is the only sensible option from a technical and legal perspective to obtain your recipients' consent and present it in the event of any legal proceedings. A newsletter tool must create the conditions and ideally only enable newsletter registrations via the double opt-in procedure.
  • Unsubscribe link in every mailing: Unsubscribe links are not explicitly required by the GDPR. However, they are the most clever way for recipients to unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time and independently. Because under the GDPR, recipients have the right to object to the processing of their data at any time and to revoke their consent to receive the newsletter. So an unsubscribe link should be automatically inserted into the email in the newsletter editor, without you having to create it yourself and build it into the newsletter.
  • Deleting recipient data: With the unsubscribe from the newsletter, the personal recipient data like name, date of birth, etc. have to be deleted - but the email address can remain stored in accordance with GDPR. However, the General Data Protection Regulation also includes the 'right to be forgotten'. Here, all recipient data must be finally and completely deleted, but can be stored anonymously in the statistics of the newsletter tool. A tool for newsletters must also provide the conditions for this.

Now you know why data protection is also so important in email marketing and what requirements newsletter tools should meet. But which tools can you use to create GDPR-compliant newsletters? We've put together an overview for you.

Creating GDPR-compliant newsletters with these tools

We now introduce you to the providers of newsletter tools that you can also rate on our platform OMR Reviews. You can find more helpful information and the previous user ratings on OMR Reviews in the Email Marketing category.

  • rapidmail: The GDPR compliant provider from Freiburg im Breisgau with a German server location focuses on easy handling and useful features for beginners and offers free German-speaking telephone and email support. Customers of rapidmail can create their mailings using drag-and-drop with access to 250 free templates and over 800,000 free images. An editor allows for the flexible and individual design of newsletter registration forms. Presentation tests simulate the view on different devices. Companies can conduct deliverability tests to identify weak points in the mailing and rectify them before shipping. The tool can be connected to all major shop systems. The price models offer flexible payment per dispatch or monthly tariffs on demand. rapidmail works together with the external company Keyed GmbH to ensure that the software remains 100% GDPR-compliant at all times.
  • CleverReach: Specialized in target group-oriented marketing campaigns, CleverReach® supports the implementation of email marketing campaigns. With the intuitive drag & drop editor, responsive and target group relevant newsletters can be created within a few minutes. A virtual drawing board enables the clear creation of automated email tracks based on the modular principle. There are interfaces for all relevant e-commerce, CRM, and CMS systems as well as various analysis tools. Integration with Google Analytics is also possible. The tool is GDPR-compliant and is also characterized by a high deliverability to recipients. Starting for free is possible in the free basic tariff with limited functionality for 250 recipients and 1,000 mails; starting at 9 euros, the tool can already be used in full functionality.
  • Optimizely Campaign: Optimizely Campaign is a professional omnichannel marketing software that allows users to create, send, and evaluate campaign mailings. According to their own information, the simple and powerful editor supports the creation and editing of one-shot campaigns as well as more complicated marketing automations. In addition to emails, it is also possible to get in touch with customers event-based and personalized in terms of content via print, SMS, web push, and mobile push. Optimizely Campaign can be seamlessly integrated into common web analytics, e-commerce, and CRM systems. Users can use APIs and expand them through various additional functions. Optimizely is a partner of the Certified Senders Alliance (CSA) and participates in their Allowlisting Program, which at the same time guarantees the conformity of a sender's email marketing processes with the GDPR.
  • Inxmail: According to their own information, over 2,000 customers worldwide trust the GDPR-compliant email marketing solutions from Inxmail. The software can be networked with many specialized systems such as CRM and CMS systems, online shop and campaign management tools, and social media platforms via interfaces. Newsletter templates can be easily created in your own CI. Practical features, such as the configuration of target groups, which can be covered with individual mailings or attachments, make the mailings more efficient. Via web forms, the customers can be encouraged to enrich the database with information such as their date of birth and keep it up to date.

How to make a GDPR-compliant newsletter

Using the newsletter tool rapidmail as an example, we will now show you how to use the integrated GDPR requirements to create a newsletter. With these points, you are on the safe side when it comes to data protection:

  • Server location Germany: The rapidmail tool stores all customer and recipient data exclusively in Germany and guarantees the highest data security thanks to a high-security data center.
  • Contract for Order Processing: You can conclude the above explained COP in the rapidmail customer account in a very flexible manner in electronic form.
  • Data Protection Declaration: The GDPR declaration is available with rapidmail as a ready-made component for newsletter registration forms, so you can easily adopt it. In addition, the software offers sample templates for the expansion of the data protection references for your websites.
  • Double Opt-in procedure: If your customers use the rapidmail registration forms, the double opt-in procedure is applied automatically. All data (double opt-in data) which prove the consent of the recipients, are secured in the customer account.
  • Unsubscribe link: An unsubscribe link is automatically inserted in the rapidmail newsletter editor. In addition, you can also add the unsubscribe function quickly and easily yourself.
  • Deleting recipient data: When you want to remove recipients in your distribution list, you can state that the recipients should be permanently deleted and thus be GDPR-compliant forgotten (according to the 'right to be forgotten'). All deleted data will then be shown anonymously in the statistics of already sent newsletters.
  • Partnership with Keyed GmbH: To continuously check and develop their software in the area of data protection, rapidmail works with certified data protection experts from Keyed GmbH.


Data protection plays a particularly important role in email marketing, as you rely on the personal data of your recipients. If you do not comply with important requirements, you and your company may face warnings or costly penalties at worst.

To implement requirements such as double opt-in procedures, registration forms, or unsubscribe links, some newsletter tools support you. Here, for example, you also have the opportunity to use templates for your recipients and to engage with data protection experts. Use these features to make sure your newsletter is legally safe in the future.

Carmen Cichon
Carmen Cichon

Carmen ist Content Marketing Managerin bei OMR Reviews. Zuvor hat sie Content-Themen für einen Lebensmittelgroßhändler verantwortet sowie einen MA in Public Relations absolviert.

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