After witnessing a storm of confusion regarding new guidance for direct marketers, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has moved to clarify the steps that brands must take to ensure consumers are legally opted-in to receive their messages.  

Published in September 2013, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ‘Guidance on Direct Marketing’ had been produced with the intention of making it easier for marketers to revise data protection laws and establish exactly how they must gain permission from users before contacting them directly.

However, insiders claim the confusing set of rules that were laid out by the ICO have created even more of a conundrum for brands that wish to comply with the Data Protection Act (DPA) and Privacy & Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR).

In an effort to shine a light on some of the more ambiguous points made in the ICO’s original document, the DMA has released a fresh set of guidelines for companies to follow.

Top concerns

The new guidance outlines 10 of the most questioned areas from the ICO version and offers explanations on how the rules should be interpreted.

These include definitions of marketing activities that fall under the new rules as well as advice for gaining third-party consent and best practices when organising short-term promotional campaigns.    

Brands that fail to obey the terms and conditions listed in the DPA and PECR can receive fines of up to £500,000. Thus, it’s no surprise to see Mike Lordan, the DMA’s director of external affairs, advising all companies with SMS and email promotions to swot up on guidance for consumer consent.

“Our guidelines are essential for any brand marketers to understand how to the ICO interprets and enforces the laws governing how they collect and use consumer data for one-to-one marketing,” he commented.

“Above all, it shows that being transparent and always putting the interest of the consumer first is the basis of building trust and encouraging them to share their information.”