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Still using ‘opt out’ emails? You could soon end up paying big time

A proposed amendment to the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, once passed, will permanently change the way companies communicate with their clients and prospective clients. In this video with Daniella Kafouris (Technology and Privacy legal specialist at Deloitte Risk Advisory), Daniella explains what this means to companies and implications for none compliance.

Daniella Kafouris of Deloitte Risk Advisory – How will proposed amendments to the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act affect you?

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 five 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 (i.e. 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 about 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.

Author | David Graham

David Graham
David Graham's passion is business-to-business digital marketing with a specific focus on value networking and inbound marketing. He consults on business-to-business digital marketing strategy and execution, with an emphasis on building sales pipelines and generating new prospects More
  • iNetGUY

    Take note FNB…..

  • Way ahead of you. Every email I send out has a CONFIRM link which my subscribers regularly click. My system allocates them an email quota when they confirm, which is decremented each time an email is sent to them. The subscriber must click confirm periodically to top up their quota, which is displayed for them at the bottom of each email (emails remaining count).

    I developed and maintain ctnlist, my mailing list software. I provide custom email marketing solutions for a select group of clients.

  • How does this impact on electronic communications for Non-profits? Is there a need for such compliance where there is no commercial element to an organisation’s “business”?

  • Yes, all bulk email will have to be opt-in.

  • I believe this legislation should allow for something called permission pass (term coined by Spamhaus), where one email is allowed to be sent to a database asking that people confirm their subscription. Only those who click a link or take some action to confirm that they wish to receive mail are sent future bulk mail,. Those who neglect to take action are rendered inactive.

    My software already implements this via my CONFIRM link which I include in each email I send out.

  • Dino Minuzzo

    @Richard Catta, what you’re talking about as permission pass is the long standing method called Double opt-in, this means the person who subscribed must though access to their own email and a confirmation link confirm they signed up for that email, i suspect the legislation still doesn’t communicate this aspect, guys will simply mass role there DB through there own local opt-in in then show that clients have opted-in, i know this because we had clients who tried to use out platform to do this, unfortunately for them they didn’t know we where tracking it, and that out system blind tracks where the opts are coming from..and so we froze their account and told them to look else where…this legislation is a step in the right direction, pity the drivers of it don’t consult with industry players like ourselves you and others to find out how it all works, what the inherent loop holes are and how they can be fixed…this also still doesn’t curtail data mining companies who are as far as I’m concerned breaking the law all the time in terms of permission based communications, clients need to be taught how to collect, mine and use there own opt-in data correctly…

  • Romany Thresher

    That’s interesting opt-in is something which is compulsory by most email marketing platforms based overseas as they have to comply with their communications act. In fact they are really strict when it comes to importing databases, you still have to ask your subscribers to opt in again. South Africans could get away with buying lists and spamming people, however, if you use an overseas platform like Mailchimp, Aweber, Get Response, 1shoppingcart you still have to comply no matter which country you live in. So for those of you using any of these services you won’t have much to worry about as your subscribers would’ve opted in already. The challenge comes when you have to move your database to another service facility.

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  • Permission Pass is not Double Opt In. Double Opt In refers to subscribing and then clicking a confirmation link. Permission Pass is a method by which a mailing list administrator can send a single (or a few) emails asking subscribers to re-confirm their subscription. Those that do not re-confirm, no longer get sent to. Those who re-confirm are sent to,. My system includes a confirm link in every email and keeps track of clicks. A person can re-confirm their subscription each time they receive an email, if they like. I display a count of regular readers so that my clients can see at a glance how many people regularly read their emails.

  • Dino Minuzzo

    Sorry this is another needless acronym and another step that doesnt deal with spam in the first place, that will just confuse the already confused South African market… Double opt in is the Gold standard for co.opted permission based electronic marketing etc. Always had been, always will and should be…any thing else, Spamhuas coined or not is a waste if time… All this creates is more confusion

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