As with any relatively new piece of legislation, the passing of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) can bring with it confusion and concern as to how it will affect your direct marketing initiatives. Hopefully I can quickly clear up some of the more common questions people have.
First off, it’s important to understand that POPI is neither a punitive nor unwarranted piece of legislation. In fact, it’s highly relevant, considering the influx of information that people and organisations are dealing with on a daily basis. The primary aim, as its name suggests, is to protect the privacy of individuals.
The legalities of POPI
A main concern for marketers and businesses aiming to increase their sales is whether POPI will make it illegal to conduct direct marketing campaigns over snail mail, email, SMS, AVM and other database marketing channels. The short answer is NO.
That being said, obtaining consent is a critical part of the legislation to take note of, as under POPI, marketing campaigns become opt-in rather than opt-out.
Some key guidelines include:
- Respect the choice of a consumer to receive information upfront
- Be clear that the consent you’re requesting relates to a specific purpose, such as contacting them about insurance products for example
- Provide customers with a clear way of expressing their choice, such as ticking a checkbox or clicking on a button to opt in
- Record when and how consent was obtained, and what it covers
- Check your existing marketing consent clauses to ensure they comply with POPI and allow for the kind of marketing you plan to do
Opt in or opt out?
What we can expect is for POPI to have a significant impact on email and SMS marketing. Previously, email marketing was done on an opt-out basis, where consumers could be communicated with until they expressly indicated that they no longer wished to receive emails.
Under POPI, all email marketing will be done under an opt-in basis, where marketers can email potential consumers once to obtain their permission to send subsequent marketing communications. However, while you need consent when you want to direct market to new prospects by electronic means (like email and SMS), the same does not apply to existing customers.
The implementation of POPI also means that marketers must offer a simple way for consumers to opt out of receiving marketing messages, such as an unsubscribe link on an email, or having a “Reply STOP to opt-out” option in an SMS.
A few guidelines on this include:
- Do not charge people to opt-out
- Keep a list of everyone who opts-out
- Be granular – allow people to specify how and when they can be contacted. Often people do not want to unsubscribe from all communications, just certain ones
- Use a mass communication tool, like a mass mailer or bulk SMS system, to manage your unsubscribe list
- Use the correct tool, such as an email marketing system, to send bulk mass communications like email and SMS
The change from opt-out to opt-in does present opportunities for your company to adopt a few innovative approaches to obtaining opt-in consent. These could include:
- Promotional competitions
- Loyalty programmes
- Exclusive access to excellent content
To make this work, marketers need to ensure that the copy of the opt-in request is compelling. This could include specifying what the benefits are to the person of opting in, such as being the first to receive terrific deals that would be of interest to them.
The real risks around POPI come from actively failing to comply with its directives. These range from reputational damage and losing customers, to being fined up to R10 million, or being sentenced to up to ten years in jail.
These hazards can be most easily avoided by doing the following:
- Take the Information Regulator’s directives seriously from the outset
- Perform due diligence when processing bank account numbers
- Have a complaints procedure in place for customers to air and resolve their grievances
By following the guidelines above, POPI need not loom as an ambiguous threat to business. Instead it can be seen as a piece of legislation that can be adhered to easily – one which will benefit both consumers and businesses wanting to find the right types of customers.
To find out more on how to make your marketing POPI proof, visit www.olico.co.za.
How To Get The Most Value For Your Direct Marketing Money
Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify offers this advice to entrepreneurs and marketers.
It is a common, global problem in the digital age – how do you convert vast amounts of data into demonstrable business value? Marketers aren’t exempt from this conundrum, and the pressure is always on to justify the worth of running a marketing campaign in real world, practical terms.
So how can you glean the most profitability from a campaign? Start by addressing a core challenge: Separating the important data from the not so important.
More particularly, focus on demographic information that is easily accessible like age, gender, location. Then follow up by looking a bit deeper and adding data such as marital status and income. Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify offers this advice to entrepreneurs and marketers.
1. System essentials
Beyond this, while choosing the right data is key, it’s wise to use the best direct marketing system possible for your marketing needs. For starters, it should report on the data that is most important. It should also offer smart dashboards that displays comprehensive information. And it should accommodate users who want to put analytics and insights together manually.
Related: POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing
Having all three in place – pulling together data, running analytics and translating those into presentable reports – is not just a nice to have. It’s increasingly essential, as direct marketing is fast becoming a saturated space. Figuring out ways to better personalise data, and target and curate the right audience for the right message at the right time has become mission critical.
2. Aid from the machines
The good news is that machine learning is set to take much of the onerous work out of personalising data. But the caveat is that its usage doesn’t exempt you from being involved, as machines still need to be taught what constitutes good data to begin with. You thus need to know and understand how to curate data properly from the outset.
For the foreseeable future, you still need to understand what you are feeding the machine learning algorithms with, and most importantly, testing assumptions. Avoid the tendency to assume that because the results came from a machine, they are correct. Rather, conclusions drawn need to be continually tested, verified and honed where appropriate.
3. Pitfalls and challenges
But, while you may have a basis from which to extract more value from your data, what is preventing you? Among key obstacles that many marketing companies do not realise, is the power of the tools that are available to them, especially those locally produced.
This is to their detriment, as the tools readily available in South Africa boast sophisticated, yet simple, insight dashboards and reporting metrics that could power-up their marketing efforts.
As for a potential opportunity, this too is a topic that is often mentioned in other industries, that of creating greater integration with a variety of tools. In reality, few companies have managed to integrate their digital, social and direct marketing approaches well.
Getting more money out of your data boils down to sorting the wheat from the chaff, having the right system in place, curating data, and finally, using machine learning with an eye towards it being an aid, rather than a replacement for human efforts.
Build A Better Database And Boost Your Audience
Put frankly, if you have not crafted your message so that you are engaging with your audience, with their permission, you will be out of the direct marketing game.
For businesses across the board, one way to get better returns is by improving efficiencies. For marketers in particular, the million rand question is how to build better databases and grow their audience.
Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify, says that building up an audience around particular marketing messages or strategies rather than pushing out any and all content to anyone, is essential. The latter may have been a trend that TV advertising praised, but it is ineffective as well as wasteful, when applied to direct marketing campaigns.
Marketers also must pay attention to their ‘list hygiene’ i.e. ensure irrelevant messages aren’t being sent to the wrong demographic. Do this by avoiding over-marketing, a factor which may be missed by those operating with a ‘more is better’ mindset. This can derail efforts, as even if people are partially interested in the marketing message, they will reach an unsubscribe point more quickly if marketers press them too often.
Dealing with information deluge
Front of mind for marketers should be that people are being besieged by information more than ever. Additionally, email and SMS channels are especially hotly contested marketing spaces, full of marketing promotions.
Clearly, any marketers who want to increase their opt-ins need to get their message and audience right from the outset, while ensuring that they send carefully crafted campaigns at the right time.
Segmentation needs to become more sophisticated too and is among top marketing trends for 2018. Doing so helps marketers treat their audience differently and adds a level of personalisation to their campaigns.
The Smart Insights report even suggests greater personalisation will result in an increase in conversions, by keeping marketers relevant and in touch with lists’ changing needs and preferences.
Strategies for success
Analytics can play a significant role here.
More granular detail can be built up over time such as what day of the week, and time of the day messages should be sent to particular segmented audiences for the optimal response.
Spread marketing messages out for a while too, and then hone in on specific days of the week, and times of the day, according to the audience being targeted. It’s considerably more effective to target the right audience at the right time than continuously sending general messages all day.
Related: POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing
The importance of A/B testing to help hone the message to your audience also cannot be underestimated. By testing two or more variants, and listening to the feedback received, marketers have a basis from which to optimise their campaigns.
As for databases, is bigger still better? Yes, but only as a starting point for the data to be further segmented and refined, empowering marketers to more accurately define their audiences.
All this may sound like a great deal of work, but the benefit of doing so isn’t just to build an audience. It will also help marketers deal with the increased pressure from the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) act to ensure they aren’t spamming their audience.
Honour The Opt-out
Gareth Mountain from Olico, explains how PoPI will effect companies undertaking any form of direct marketing, and why it’s important to honour the consumers’ right to opt out of the marketing process.
It’s in a companies’ own best interests to toe the line when it comes to direct marketing best practices. It boils down to the fact that ethically it is the right thing to do, and that they should not wait for the implementation (and subsequent fines) of the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) act to kick in to respect the consumer.
1. Electronic comms and outbound calling
The most notable point to understand when it comes to electronic channels of communication (email, SMS, Automatic Voice Messaging), is that companies will need explicit opt-in permission to contact the consumer. Here it is not about having the legal right to market to them as the Electronic Communications Act currently specifies, but rather being able to prove that they specifically gave permission for your communication.
This is set to bring about an overall decline in electronic marketing, and securing that valuable opt-in permission is going to be crucial. Yes, some companies will certainly struggle, but by providing relevant, ethical, targeted deals to your consumer database, there’s no reason for them to opt-out, especially if your offers are beneficial.
When it comes to outbound calling, PoPI permits one marketing call to a person, even if they have not opted in. During this call, operators can attempt to get them to opt-in for future marketing (both electronic and voice). While this might protect jobs in the South African call centre industry, it could result in locals receiving more intrusive calls, while less intrusive email and SMS marketing declines.
2. Respect the No
One thing to keep in mind during all marketing communication, is to respect the public’s requests. If a person asks to be removed from your electronic marketing or direct calls, make 100% sure to comply and ensure their number/email does not slip through the cracks to the next campaigns.
On a national level the Direct Marketing Association of SA (DMASA) has established a National Opt Out Database to adhere to. Paid-up members of the DMASA have access to this database as well as the process involved in making sure that their own database corresponds to the DMASA no contact list. This is through a process called “Deduping” and ensures companies do not accidentally market to anyone on this national do-not-call database. DMASA members also need to adhere to the code of conduct which regulates behaviour in the industry.
3. The responsibility of the company
When it comes to a company-wide level, it is best to automate the opt-out process so that human error is taken out of the equation. Keep a record of the opt-outs and inform the consumer that they have indeed been taken off the database.
Related: POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing
One grey area where we believe companies might try and bend the rules, would be to opt-out the consumer on a product-level, meaning that although they have said no for marketing on one brand or product, the company will continue with marketing other products in the stable. It is unlikely, however, that a consumer will decline receiving marketing for one product, and still want communication for another. Rather take them off the database completely.
The reasons why companies must honour opt-outs are numerous, with the fact that the PoPI Act allows for fines of up to R10 million or jail time for violation perhaps standing out as the most prominent. But with the ethical behaviour of companies under the spotlight locally, the moral responsibility of respecting the consumer should not be ignored.
Entrepreneur Profiles2 weeks ago
8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion
Technology2 weeks ago
3 Things Africa Must Get Right If It Wants To Leapfrog Into The 4th Industrial Revolution
Lessons Learnt3 days ago
What Comfort Zones? Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable Says Co-Founder Of Curlec: Zac Liew
Business Landscape1 week ago
How Schindlers Attorneys Became Involved In The Landmark Cannabis Case
Branding2 weeks ago
Why You Should Prioritise Brand Image
Get Organised6 days ago
How To Multitask Like Tim Ferriss, Randi Zuckerberg And Other Very Busy People
Increasing Productivity2 weeks ago
Take Responsibility For Your Company’s Culture To Boost Productivity
Entrepreneur Today3 days ago
AlphaCode Awards R16 Million To Fintech Start-ups In One Of SA’s Richest Start-up Initiatives