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Direct Marketing and the Law

Know your options
Email and SMS marketing can be a fast and cost-effective way of promoting your business to new customers. However, recent legislation puts serious restrictions on the way you can promote your company via text and cyberspace.

So what does the legislation stipulate? Well, in short, it states that you are only permitted to market via email or SMS if recipients have given prior consent or ‘opted-in’ to receive information in such a way. What’s more, your marketing emails must offer those that have opted-in the facility to unsubscribe – and this facility must be free and easy to find.
The good news is that the legislation does allow you to contact existing customers who have already given their email address or mobile number, or those who have already enquired about one of your products or services via mobiles or email.

However, this is no law to be messed with – fail to gain prior consent and you could face a fine of up to £5,000.A matter of preference
There was a time when someone conducting a direct marketing campaign could cold-call and mail-drop potential customers to their heart’s content. All that changed with the introduction of the Telephone and Mail Preference Services (TPS and MPS), registers on which members of the public can record their preference not to receive unsolicited marketing mail and phone calls. Now, make an unsolicited call to someone who has registered to TPS and you’ll be breaking the law and facing a potential fine. Mail a consumer who has signed up to MPS without prior consent and you could be investigated by the Direct Marketing Authority.

The simple way around the problem is to find out who has signed up to the databases and cleanse your records accordingly. For more information on how to do so, call the Direct Marketing Association’s Licence Department on 020 7291 3327. Personal issues
If you run direct marketing campaigns, you not only have legal obligations concerning the way you contact customers, but also on any personal data you hold on them. The Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to know how you store such data – and what that data is. As such, it states that anyone who processes personal information must ensure that the information is:

 Fairly and lawfully processed
 Processed for limited purposes
 Adequate, relevant and not excessive
 Accurate and up to date
 Not kept for longer than is necessary
 Processed in line with their rights
 Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection