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Trade Show Leads: Do You Have Consent to Email?

In today’s world of GDPR compliance and anti-spam laws, it can be difficult to navigate the legal system and understand who you can and can’t email.

We’ve done the wading, and are breaking it down in plain English for you here.

The long and short of it is: Yes, you can email people who give you their business card at a trade show. Or any business event for that matter.

If you’re strapped for time, you can leave now. If you want to know why – read on.

Why is it OK to email people after a trade show?

Under NZ Law there are three types of consent someone can give you to send an email:

Express Consent
Deemed Consent
Inferred Consent

Express consent means someone ticks a box that says “Yes, please send me more information”. This consent can also be given verbally in a conversation – either in person or over the phone.

If you’re standing there chatting to someone at your stand you can simply ask – “Is it OK to send you some more info via email?”

And that will give you express consent.

You can also ask them to fill out a form with their details, and include a box to tick off that says they agree to receive emails.

Again, this gives you express consent.

The only problem is if the issue of consent is ever brought up, it’s up to the sender to prove consent. So, a conversation at an expo might be difficult to use as proof.

This brings us to inferred consent. Inferred consent refers to when someone engages you, they might expect you to follow up. Say they purchase something, there is a reasonable expectation you will send some emails.

Inferred consent doesn’t apply to trade show leads.

This leaves us with deemed consent. According to the DIA “Deemed consent is when someone conspicuously publishes their electronic address (e.g. on a website, brochure or magazine) in a business or official capacity.”.

And this is the consent you will most commonly be able to use and provide proof of. All you need to do is make sure the data is time stamped when you upload and make a note which event you connected with the lead. This should be a part of your process anyway as it makes following up simpler. And it also serves as proof of deemed consent.

In summary: at trade shows or business events, when someone gives you their business card there is a reasonable expectation that you will be in touch with them. The message should still be relevant, and you shouldn’t send too many emails. But if you keep a time stamp and know which event you connected on, then from a legal point of view you are clear.

If you’d like to learn more, read this article written by the Marketing Association of NZ.

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