Think differently when emailing Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Eva Maria Schmidt
April 11, 2014

Certified Senders Alliance (CSA) recently released guidelines for marketers who want to conduct email marketing in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Their laws are strict in regard to email marketing. However, they serve as a good legal foundation to conduct email marketing across Europe.

The CSA guidelines are clear, comprehensive and contain several examples for you to read. It is long but Selligent, a renowned expert on email marketing has written a short and neat summary of this mega 50 page document.


The Consent

Firstly, a brand needs the explicit consent of the recipient in order to send any promotional email. An exception would be that they already are clients of your brand and they did not complain about receiving promotional emails. The consent of the recipient needs to be recorded in detail and presented upon request.

As the purchaser of lists, you have to make sure that you receive the records of the consent for all users in the bought list, as you will have to be able to prove that the owner of an email address actually gave consent to receive emails from you.

While it is not illegal to purchase lists as long as you can provider the proper consent information, we strongly discourage it. It goes against all Best Practices defined for the Deliverability area and will almost always cause delivery and IP/brand reputation issues. You should always try to avoid getting data from third parties.


At any time users should be able to unsubscribe from your services in an easy manner. This should be clearly mentioned during the registration process as well.

The best way is to add an unsubscribe link directly in your emails. After clicking the link, a user must be shown a confirmation page stating that their cancelation was successful.

The subject

The subject should reflect the content of the email and must not be misleading in any way.

The subject must be:

The sender must be easily recognizable

A recipient should be able to easily recognize the sender of the email. Therefor the sender should contain the name of the company, the product or a person. As with the subject line, the sender may not be misleading.

Legal Notice

Each business related communication must contain a legal notice. This information may be included in the email as a whole (this method is preferred) or by adding a link. The legal notice must at least contain the following information:

This information must be:


The CSA guidelines mention the legal framework in Austria and Switzerland but Selligent’s recommendation is to apply the German rules in all three countries because of the similarity between their legal frameworks and also to have extensive legal coverage.

Every EU country is governed by the EU directive on data privacy but some countries have a more extensive legal coverage than others. It is important for your brand to investigate the legal situation in the respective country where your brand plans to send promotional emails.

Useful Links

Certified Senders Alliance guidelines are free to download here.

In regard to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, more information can be found at each of their respective data privacy bureaus.


Austria: [link only available in German)


For a full list of EU data privacy agencies please see: