13/07/2012

By Ben Weiner | CEO, Conjungo

Compliance and legislation is can be a minefield. What organisations can or cannot do are covered in host of laws and regulations. This edition, we’ll be investigating the whole issue of privacy and marketing databases including the do’s and don’t s.

From a marketing perspective, data is critical to most organisations and naturally to marketers. The more we know about our target audience the better informed we will be in terms of effectively send messages that will be of maximum value. Marketing is no longer an ‘art’ – it’s a very distinct science and the more technical it becomes it appears that more laws are put in place to protect the rights of individuals and organisations and quite rightly so.

We’re all aware of the dreaded ‘spam’ or unwanted and unsolicited email that by and large goes into a designated folder in our email systems. None the less, it is irritating and of course a waste of time and resource because I for one still have to check my ‘spam’ folder just in case…….and yes, quite often I will find an email that shouldn’t be there and of course vice versa.

So, what do marketing departments need to conform to?

•only collect information that you need for a specific purpose;

•keep it secure;

•ensure it is relevant and up to date;

•only hold as much as you need, and only for as long as you need it; and

•allow the subject of the information to see it on request.

Marketing campaigns

If your organisation is considering marketing campaigns, you need to be aware of conditions and regulations that must be adhered to. If you are planning a marketing campaign, you'll have to comply with a number of regulations. This applies to messages sent by telephone, fax, email or text and some regulations apply to those sent via post.

Electronic mail marketing

The critical point is to be aware that you can only execute an email marketing campaign if the person you are contacting have specifically given you permission to do so.

However, there is an exception known as the 'soft opt-in'.

This rule applies for the following conditions:

•When a person’s details have been obtained as part of a sale or negotiation of a product or service

•Where the marketing message is communicating similar products or services

•The individual is given the opportunity to refuse similar marketing initiatives when their details are collected, and if they don't opt out they are allowed easily to do so in future messages.

Furthermore, when your organisation sends an electronic marketing message, the recipient must be informed who it from and given a valid contact address.

While these rules on emails don't apply to emails sent to organisations, though you must still identify who you are and provide a valid address.

Telephone marketing have additional rules: The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and Fax Preference Service (FPS) are managed by the Direct Marketing Association . This rule allows people to register their numbers to opt out of receiving unsolicited calls or faxes. Under no circumstance must you or your organisation market to individuals or organisations who have registered their numbers with the TPS or FPS.

It is recommend that your marketing campaigns are always ‘permission-based’ and that you clearly explain what a person's details will be used for and allow an easy way for them to opt out of receiving further messages and ultimately have a working system in place for dealing with complaints and associated issues.

Further reading:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/sector_guides/marketing.aspx
http://www.ico.gov.uk/