Confusion about email marketing future
LONDON – There exists widespread industry confusion over the new Electronic Communications Directive and its impact on the use of email for marketing purposes, according to new research.
The findings, encompassing responses from direct marketing agencies and end users, highlight alarmingly low levels of preparation by most marketers in advance of the new directive (Processing of Personal Data and the Protection of Privacy), which is due to be implemented in October 2003.
The research carried out by B2B telemarketing agency Price Direct, in conjunction with the Direct Marketing Association found that what qualifies as "opt in", in terms of the source and the manner in which permission is gained, is not clearly understood by most marketers, agencies or end users.
The study also found a lack of clarity regarding the way to combine traditional media with email, to gain permission and/or support email campaigns, was also evident.
The research follows an extensive DMA lobbying campaign regarding the collection and processing of data in the electronic communication sector ever since the directive first appeared.
John Price, managing director of Price Direct, said: "We were keen to find out what preparations, if any, were being made within the industry for the implementation of the directive. From a business point of view, we then wanted to know what alternative direct marketing activities people were going to be using in order to ensure the past and future collection of 'opt-in' email addresses were legitimate."
Robert Dirskovski, head of interactive media, said: "This research now helps us gauge how much awareness raising and education work still needs to be done within the industry before the directive is implemented next year. Whilst it is disturbing to see the level of confusion that exists around what defines 'opt-in', it is not a complete surprise, since the government has yet to clarify its own definitions before publishing draft regulations."
The DMA says that it plans to engage heavily in the DTI's consultation process that is due to take place following the release of the draft regulations in January 2003 and will work with its members and other industry partners to identify the key areas of confusion and heighten awareness.
The DMA will use the research as the basis of a round table discussion with leading industry figureheads in January 2003 and plans to present the findings to the DTI when the three-month consultation period begins.
For a copy of the research findings, click here.
The research study used telemarketing and email communications to evaluate how participants currently use email for marketing purposes and to understand practitioners' views on how the new legislation will affect the use of, and budgets for, email marketing.
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