The new Dutch opt-in law

As from the 1st of July there is a new opt-in legislation regarding B2B communication.
Gone are the days that companies could approach each other via generic email addresses (e.g. info@) to promote product or services.

From now on electronic B2B communication will have the same restrictions as B2C communication.

In short

– Explicit consent is needed before sending a commercial email to a company
– Even for existing databases you will need this consent (opt-inning your old databases)
– Your company’s identity must be very clear on each communication
– A free unsubscribe link has to be provided and respected

The exception

You don’t need explicit consent when mailing to clients, but:
– The communication has to be related to the bought product or service
– The costumer must have the possibility to deny this type of communication when becoming a new client
– A free unsubscribe link has to be provided and respected

Not only email!

This new legislation does not only regulate email marketing, but all electronic communication.
So also SMS/MMS marketing and fax are bound to the same rules.

The paradox

While electronic communication is very well regulated, as it should be, print communication is not. So basically, there is no problem of you want to send people personal addressed post by regular postal mail!

Is it just me or is there something wrong in this world? Every day when opening my (postal) mailbox I have to throw away tons of papers and nobody cares.

IMPORTANT: The new legislation is postponed until October the 1st.

Kenny Van Beeck


  1. Posted May 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    ‘tons of paper every day’? Come on Kenny!
    unsollicited direct mail is regulated as well and has opt-out rules just like email does.
    The difference is : your email inbox is a zone you consider to be ‘enter by invitation only’. Those who trespass will be punished vehemently! So to get into this private zone: use the advantages of print to try to engage prospects to give their email address and then pursue the dialogue online.
    Looking forward to your reaction

    • Posted May 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. That is why we also use print campaigns to opt-in non opt-inned databases. Get the conversion from print data to online opt-in email data!
      But isn’t it strange that people find email more offending than paper? And is it normal that you do have to have explicit consent for sending an email and you don’t need it for a letter? Also non addressed post is the same as sending an email to a generic email address.

      Have you ever tried to unsubscribe from a faxmailing? Against to the fact that you are paying the marketing campaign from somebody else (it’s your ink and paper), unsubscribing is hardly ever free of charge (toll free number) like it should be.

      • Posted May 29, 2009 at 7:19 am | Permalink

        In reply to ‘isn’t it strange that people find email more offending than paper’ :
        1) relevance comes first. If what you have to say is relevant I won’t be offended.
        2) IMHO It’s related to the distance between the message and the receiver. You can hold a DM piece at arm’s length before deciding what to do with it (open it or dump it). For an email, you’re a lot closer, and it’s right in your comfort zone. For SMS, this would make things even worse, you have to hold your mobile right in front of you to read it and then decide what to do with it.

      • Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:50 am | Permalink

        1) Relance is crucial, I agree! In email marketing it can even influence your reputation score and deliverability rates.
        But to decide that something is relevant, you do have to get it first and that is only possible after the opt-in.
        So this means that even the opt-in page must be very relevant.

        2) You do have a point! So basically what you mean is that social control and the decission of the reader to accept or not should be more important that the law that regulates it. This is also the new way of working in spam monitoring. ISP’s follow costumer reactions and not legislations. After all, my private zone can be much smaller than yours for instance (in a social point of view that is).

      • Posted May 29, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Well, what I meant to say is that the regulation in this case reflects how a majority of individuals feel about it. Specifically for commercial email, as a consumer, I’m glad unsollicited email is regulated and I still tend to react with vehemence when someone sends me something I never asked for.
        That behaviour is replicated in my attitude towards B2b emailings : I recently got several emailings from HR consultants because we were hiring someone. My first reaction was to ask to be removed from their list. When one of them, after my unsubscribe request, kept sending me info candidate profiles in their database, ***FLAME*** I got angry and threatened to have them blacklisted by the BMDA.
        Would I have had the same reaction to the same information sent to me by direct mail? No, I would have forwarded it to HR.

      • Posted May 29, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        Strange!! Same message, different medium and people react in a differant way. After al e-mail is MAIL, but in an E format.
        Once again this proves that multi-channel approach is the only real way to go. Every individual is unique and should be approached that way.

        After all is this not the reason that we are working together? Joined forces on different media. I love it!

      • Posted June 1, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Medium is the message… if someone spends a couple of euros to send me a direct message by snail mail (anyone still use the term?), they likely care about me (my wallet), so it could be worth opening. Not at all the case with e-mail – hence the difference.

        That said, there are a lot of similarities: known senders get priority, known offenders get junked immediately.

  2. Tim Beadle
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I can’t find any information about the postponement of the law – can you tell me where you got this information from?

    • Posted July 1, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      The official website of the Dutch ministry of financial affaires.

      “Op 14 juni 2009 heeft het Ministerie van Economische Zaken een nieuwsbericht geplaatst op haar website over de nieuwe regelgeving met betrekking tot telecom contracten per 1 juli 2009.

      In de laatste alinea wordt het volgende gesteld:

      ‘De wetswijziging van Heemskerk regelt ook een verbod om bedrijven (rechtspersonen) spam te sturen. Dit verbod wordt effectief per 1 oktober as. Spam aan personen was in Nederland al verboden. Door het nieuwe verbod ontstaat een algeheel spam verbod in Nederland. Hiermee moet de schade die spam veroorzaakt bij internet service providers en andere bedrijven afnemen. OPTA kan Nederlandse bedrijven die toch doorgaan met het versturen van spam boetes opleggen.’

      Dit betekent dat de nieuwe regels b-to-b e-mail niet per 1 juli 2009 in werking zullen treden maar per 1 oktober 2009. “

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