The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently released revised guidelines relating to the Privacy in Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and Data Protection Act (DPA). They’re starting to take stricter interpretations of both, and the impact of this could be felt through the land of email marketing.
Firstly, don’t panic. Breaches of this law are not criminal – no one is going to jail. Rather, not following their guidance could result in fines of up to £500,000 in the worst case scenario. It’s therefore important that marketers know how to comply.
The first port of call is to ensure you are only sending email marketing messages to contacts who have opted-in. But, you knew that, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise! Secondly, it will be worth revisiting the wording in your opt-in process. It should be explicitly clear to the subscriber exactly what types of information you will be sending them. For example, consider a mandatory tick box stating: “Please send me emails in the future regarding promotions and news about your products and services.” You will also need proof that this consent was given.
We’re very much against buying lists – it simply isn’t an ethical way to perform email campaigns. Remember – you need someone’s consent before you can send them an email. If you currently rent someone else’s list, you have no real indication of whether or not those subscribers contained within it were added with their knowledge. Avoid this – the ICO won’t like it.
We’ll finish with an excerpt from the guidelines, which summarise the key point they are so keen to stress:
“It is extremely unlikely that a customer would intend to consent to unlimited future marketing calls or texts from anyone, anywhere. The question is what the customer would reasonably expect, given the context. Would they have anticipated that they were consenting to messages from that particular organisation? If the nature of the promotion is quite different from the context in which consent was originally obtained, consent is unlikely to be valid under PECR – even if it was superficially expressed to cover third parties.”