chapter 3

Privacy — Anti Spam

Spam

Defined

You cannot send email marketing materials without gaining consent and without proper identification and opt out mechanisms.

As a shop owner, you often have the opportunity to collect and use your customers' e-mail addresses. This can be a valuable resource to increase sales, but be sure to exercise caution when you are using this information.

The UK government has addressed privacy issues associated with this by implementing the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations in 2003. Compliance with this legislation is enforced by the Information Commissioner and carries significant monetary penalties.

Avoid Spamming

Our Recommendations

(i) You should — Get consent and allow for opt-out.
(ii) Each message should contain — Who is sending the message, a way to contact this person and an unsubscribe mechanism.

Sending e-mails to customers is a great way to keep them informed about your products and offers, but be conscious of their right to privacy. Potentially problematic messages range from emails telling customers about a new sale to offering unsolicited business opportunities. The law doesn’t ban these messages, but it does require that you (the sender) provide certain features and information in the messages you send.

The burden is on you to prove you had permission from the consumer to send messages. Make sure you have systems in place to store proof of consent. Marketing materials are most effective, after all, when the receiver is interested in getting information. Receiving consent means that your consumers are happy and that you’re in compliance with the law.

Opt In

The customer has actively signed up for something knowing they will receive messages.

 

Opt Out

The customer is informed in some way that they will receive messages unless they don’t want them.

There are a variety of ways to get the required consent. When the e-mail address is collected during the course of a sale (or negotiations for a sale), consent can be based on an "opt–out" model, rather than "opt-in," which is harder to prove. Best practice would be to provide a check box where the e-mail is being collected. This means the customer has the opportunity to opt-out of future messages.

Opt In Consent

Not Required When

(i) The e-mail address was collected in the regular course of trade.
(ii) Promotional messages relate to similar products and services.
(iii) They were given the ability to opt-out upon providing the email.

A common method of establishing consent is to include a provision in your online store's privacy policy. The most important thing here is to ensure you are sending marketing materials to individuals who have an interest in seeing them. Be sure to make it possible for customers to state that they don’t want materials sent to them, or allow them to tell you they don’t want any more promotions.

Complying with this law will allow you to maximize your contact list as a means of marketing, while ensuring that your communications are legal.

Next chapter

4. Privacy — Data Protection

2 min

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