Direct marketing and POPI

The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) deals specifically with the subject of direct marketing, and strict rules are in place to regulate this. This is what you need to know:

  1. Direct marketing includes any direct approach to generate business. This approach could be by email or other electronic messaging system, by ordinary mail or in person. It therefore includes all email marketing, SMS’s and WhatsApp’s, newsletters, drops, tele-canvassing and cold calling.

  2. The Act deals separately with direct marketing by means of electronic communication, and “other” direct marketing.

  3. “Other” (non-electronic) direct marketing is dealt with very briefly and we are all given the right to object to having our personal information used for this type of direct marketing. Once such an objection has been raised, a Property Professional may no longer use the person’s personal information for direct marketing.

  4. Direct marketing by means of electronic communication is dealt with in more detail and the rules are a bit more complicated. The default position is that this type of marketing is prohibited, unless it is done in accordance with the rules laid down in the Act.

  5. A distinction is drawn between those people who you have already dealt with in the context of your business, whose personal details you collected during your previous dealings with them, let’s call them “existing client contacts”, and people who you are looking to generate new business from, let’s call them “new prospects”.

  6. You may continue to include “existing client contacts” in your direct marketing on 2 conditions:
    1. You only may market products and/or services to them that are similar to those that were provided when you acquired their personal details; and
    2. The person must be given the option to opt out with each marketing communication sent.

  7. For “new prospects” you may only carry out direct marketing to them by electronic means if the person has consented to receive such marketing. If such consent is refused, you may not ask for consent again. In addition, these “new prospects” must be also be given the option to opt out with each marketing message sent.

  8. The Act prescribes a form that a “new prospect” needs to sign to give their consent to allow their personal information to be used for direct marketing, and this consent form can be found here. I have also prepared an amended consent form, to make it more user friendly for your business, and this can be found here. Feel free to make the form your own, but be careful not to move too far from the prescribed wording.

  9. When sending direct marketing material you must include your details as the sender. You must also give the recipient an address or other contact details where they could send a request to unsubscribe.

  10. The bottom line is that you need to give all recipients of digital marketing material the opportunity to “unsubscribe” from your marketing list/database every time that you send marketing material, and if a person does unsubscribe, you need to respect this decision and do the necessary.

Deon Welz
Miltons Matsemela Inc.

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