Never before in South Africa has one industry been hit by so many Laws. It is understandable that the direct marketing industry may seem under threat from the introduction of new regulations like the Consumer Protection Act and Protection of Personal Information Bill.
However, historically around the world the regulation of industries tends to lead to a more mature industry where most companies follow good practices. This leads to strong growth in quantity and quality, resulting in increased success levels for companies employing best practices. The regulation and discouragement of spam practices (unwanted or unsolicited commercial mailing) increases the success rates of email marketing by reducing clutter and consumer annoyance.
Email Marketing continues to be among the most inexpensive and effective ways to reach your customer base [Econsultancy, Jan 2011, Customer Engagement Report 2011]. For most business models, repeat customers will generate the most business and as a result customer retention is key. It is 6-7 times more expensive to gain a customer than to retain a customer, so retention mailing strategies remain of utmost importance. What‟s more, on average it takes several customer touches (interactions through channels such as call centers, websites etc.) before a sale occurs. Email provides a cost effective mechanism for staying connected with leads and prospects on a mass scale; encouraging ongoing positive brand interaction and converting leads into paying customers.
The biggest change to email marketing regulation introduced by the CPA is the mandatory compliance with an official “do not contact” list that will pre-emptively block direct marketing to consumers who put their names on the list. At the date of writing this the “do not contact” list tender has just closed, but we can expect that it will take up to a year before this facility is implemented and available to consumers. It is however more important than ever before to provide recipients with a clear and easy to use mechanism for unsubscribing from future correspondence. Currently the DMA-SA provides a service to consumer for opting out (www.optout.co.za), this list is made available to DMA members on a monthly basis.