Exco Risk

Companies still sending “opt out” emails could soon end up paying big time

A proposed amendment to the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, once passed, will effectively change the way companies communicate with their clients and prospective clients permanently. In this video Deloitte Risk Advisory Technology and Privacy legal specialist Daniella Kafouris, discusses the proposed amendments to the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act with Polity’s Shannon de Ryhove.

While this amendment covers a number of forms of electronic communication, I want to talk specifically around email communication, how this will affect companies that use email as one of their marketing channels, and what they can do to prepare themselves for the future changes in legislation. Here are my 5 suggestions to ease the pain of legislative changes.

1.     Get your existing clients to opt in now

Once passed the Act states that you are permitted to send email communication to subscribers who have “opted-in” first. Currently, companies are permitted to send an email to a person until they “Unsubscribe” and then communication must cease. Even though you may have thousands of loyal subscribers who are receiving your emails right now, you will have to get them to “opt-in” anyhow. I advise companies to communicate this to their current subscribers and provide a link to an “opt-in” page.

2.     Start focussing on good content

This is most probably a good time to start developing a good content marketing strategy for your organisation. If your website is dated, spend some time updating it. If you do not have a blog, create one and start publishing good articles on a regular basis. Make sure you have subscriber links on your website and blog.

3.     Get your SEO right

For those not familiar with the acronym, I am talking about Search Engine Optimisation. If you are publishing original content regularly, you need to ensure that people find it when conducting online searches. Remember that this was what the Internet was developed for in the first place all those years ago ie a good source of original content for Internet users to use.

4.     Ramp up your social networking activities pronto!

I can see the social media rubbing their hands together in glee when they hear about these proposed amendments. For one, it is going to reduce the online noise and spamming significantly and it strengthens the case for a proper social media strategy to be put in place as soon as possible! If your company already has a prominent presence on the social web and you are connecting and interacting with your target market, and your online community are having discussions around your content and brand, you do not have anything to worry about.

5.     Do not give up on your email channel

I have been using email as one of my channels for many years now and it is very effective if used properly. I have many subscribers that are senior managers and executives in leading companies that will gladly receive an email from me, however the content must be value-adding, and communication must be short and get to the point quickly and not too frequent.

Do you have anything to add to this? I welcome you feedback

About the author

David Graham


  • Spam is not only limited to email. Social media can be just as spammy! The secret is always ask for permission to engage, don’t just engage! permission based marketing…

  • Hi, are there any type of companies excluded from this scenario e.g. non-commercial companies sending bulk emails as encouragement to adhere to XYZ (law)?

  • Spam is certainly not limited to email and permission based marketing is definitely a way to go.

    With regards to the effect on SMS marketing, well between the Protection of Personal Information Bill and the proposed ECT regulations, individuals would need to opt-in to receive sms communications.

    @Wilna: there are no exclusions unless you are not engaging in direct marketing of a product or service or if you are not asking for a donation.

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