Marketing heads ready to ignore new email-marketing legislation, according to survey

September 09, 2003
By Colin Marks

Marketing professionals still do not understand the new email-marketing legislation that comes into effect this autumn* and are likely to ignore it in practice, according to a new survey by CRM Technologies Ltd.

New rules require all email recipients to opt in to receive email-marketing, unless they are existing customers. Yet, around 1 in 8 marketing professionals say they have never heard of this new legislation relating to email communications, and another third (37%) say they are not sure about the detail of it, according to the survey.

Entitled “Achieving ROI on Marketing Spend”, the report surveyed over 100 heads of marketing in £50m-plus-turnover businesses and shows that this ignorance does not seem likely to deter some sectors. None of those surveyed in the business services sector says they will reduce the amount that they use email as a marketing technique, compared to the business financial services (40%) and distribution sectors (55%). Ignorance about the detail of this new email legislation is especially high in the business services sector (55%), where 90% have used this technique in the last 12 months, compared to the distribution sector (10%), where only 65% have used it over the same period.

“Email can deliver fantastic response rates to marketers, particularly for house lists where contacts have opted in to receive future communications such as e-newsletters,” commented Andrew Freeman, managing director at CRM Technologies Ltd. “Behind the response rates though, there’s a lot of hard graft taking place to build and maintain effective and legal databases. 56% of the sample surveyed says email-marketing has been on the increase in the last two years and 81% have used this technique in the last 12 months. This reflects our customers’ experiences quite accurately. Email-marketing is growing in importance – not only to meet consumer demand, but because it’s relatively inexpensive to deploy and incredibly easy to track and report against,” he added.

Of the 44% who do think there will be an impact on them following the new legislation, the two most common impacts are thought to be a reduction in the amount that the marketing technique will be used, along with the fact that databases will reduce in size, both 26%.

*A new Electronic Commerce Directive 2002/58/EC that all EU member states must implement by 31st October 2003. It replaces much national law across EU including the 1999 UK regulations and the Telecoms Data Protections Directive (97/66/EC).

The legislation requires that direct marketing to individuals by electronic methods (including email, SMS, fax and so on) must be on an opt-in basis, unless a prior commercial arrangement is already in place, where an opt-out model can be utilised.

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