Why is this?By its very nature, direct electronic marketing is intrusive into our daily lives and because of this, it?s highly regulated. Central to all of this regulation is the issue of consent, i.e., whether or not the receiver has agreed for you to market to them in this way. In my opinion, it?s this issue of consent that plays a big part in the annoyance felt by an individual when they receive messages they haven?t asked for. When a business owner needs legal advice on this issue, the two big questions I?m usually asked, are:
- What is the minimum I need to do to be able to market to people?
- What is my biggest risk if I don?t follow your advice?
Direct electronic?marketing: The risksSo, what?s biggest risk if you don?t follow this advice? In my experience, marketers are likely to push the limits of what they can get away with when it comes to direct email?marketing because they think the chances of adverse consequences are low. That may have been true in the past, but these days the risk is very real and it?s growing. If you blatantly and persistently flout the rules, you could be fined up to ?500,000 for breaches of the Data Protection Act and you may also be committing a criminal offence. Now, I accept that a fine on this scale is likely to be rare, but many, many more businesses are getting fined tens of thousands of pounds for overstepping the mark. For any business that?s going to put a serious dent in the bottom line! Not only that, you risk bad publicity and damage to your brand and reputation which will lead to lost sales. Also, you could be sued for compensation by any of the individuals you sent the marketing to who objected to it. There are practical issues to consider too. If too many people mark your emails as ?spam? it will affect your delivery rates and put you in breach of your email provider?s terms and conditions. This means you could have your service cut off and lose the ability to send marketing emails while you switch to a new provider. So, if you want to stay on the right side of the law and make the most of the benefits that direct email?marketing can provide, make sure you obtain valid consent and review it regularly. If you?re wondering whether it?s reasonable to continue sending to someone, think about how you would feel to be on the receiving end. If you would unsubscribe, or there?s a risk that you would mark it as ?spam?, even out of annoyance, then play it safe. Remove that individual from your marketing database. If you have any questions about any of the issues I have raised, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. David Walker is the founder of Grid Law Catch up on the first in David’s marketing series: Promoting your business ? The line between impact and illegality
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