A review of the EC directive for SMS marketing
SMS marketing is considered an electronic form of communication. That means its use is governed by the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations. It may sound scary, but it really isn’t that hard to understand. However, in light of my last blog I thought it worthwhile to go over the basics of the EC Directive to help you better understand what you can and can’t do with your SMS marketing.
In the warning the ICO issued to Optical Express discussed in the last blog, several key paragraphs from the EC Directive are quoted. They basically say that no one can send unsolicited messages to any individual without prior consent. It then goes on to state three criteria used to determine what consent means (from Regulation 22):
“A person may send or instigate the sending of electronic mail for the purposes of direct marketing where –
(a) that person has obtained the contact details of the recipient of that electronic mail in the course of the sale or negotiations for the sale of a product or service to that recipient;
(b) the direct marketing is in respect of that person’s similar products and services only; and
(c) the recipient has been given a simple means of refusing (free of charge except for the costs of the transmission of the refusal) the use of his contact details for the purposes of such direct marketing, at the time that the details were initially collected, and where he did not initially refuse the use of details, at the time of each subsequent communication.”
That is honestly a mouthful of words, but very important ones. Here’s a simple interpretation.
If you gather someone’s mobile number while you are selling them something, then you can be safe sending them marketing messages related to that sale. For example, if a customer purchases a house from you then you can send them marketing messages about other services you provide for home buyers. But you can’t send them marketing messages about buying cars or for special deals on a holiday in Australia. While these other things may be part of your business too, they don’t relate to the purchase they made from you initially.
In another example, if someone purchases a trip to Australia from you, you can freely send them information about their trip to Australia. You could also send them marketing messages about other trips you offer, though you do want to be sure to limit those to ones you know they are interested in. And if you do send marketing messages about other trips, part c above becomes very important. With every message you send them about the next trip, make sure they can opt out easily with a simple reply message.
Following these guidelines should keep you within the law, and also help you keep happy customers. And happy customers keep coming back, whatever business you’re in.
The PECR Regulations, better known as the Privacy and Electronics Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 are one of the most important pieces of legislation affecting those involved in SMS Marketing. They exist to safeguard the privacy and use of personal information when used for direct marketing through electronic means, including communications by SMS. Parts of it crossover with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and where it does so, both pieces of legislation should be complied with. Unlike the DPA, the PECR is obligatory whether or not you process personal data in the course of your business. Read this essential guide to PECR for SMS Marketing to ensure you know everything you need to know.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued seven monetary penalties against companies this year. We’ve read through them all – so you don’t have to – and discovered two lessons every company should learn about SMS marketing if they want to be successful.
ICO, the Information Commissioner's Office, has recently imposed a huge fine on direct marketing company Help Direct UK for sending illegal SMS messages.
Electronic marketing is a tricky thing. There are rules and regulations you need to follow, and it can all seem pretty intimidating at first. To help you get started, I’ve gathered five of the most commonly asked questions about SMS marketing and the regulations and summed them up here.
One of the most interesting use cases for SMS messaging is the financial industry. Just a couple weeks ago I wrote a blog on 7 ways the financial industry can use SMS messaging to communicate with customers. In this blog I'll expand on the topic from a different perspective: personalisation.
Yet another company (Quigley and Carter Limited) have been fined by the ICO for not having permission to send SMS messages. In this case, they had outsourced their marketing to a third party who then sent messages on their behalf. So is staying compliant with the regulations regarding SMS messaging so difficult? It doesn’t have to be.
When you start using SMS marketing, one of the first decisions you need to make is whether or not you’ll need to get replies. If you do, then you’ll need to decide between shortcodes and a virtual mobile number (VMN, also called longcode). If you don’t, then that’s alright too.