As new e-mail rules bite, companies are having to learn how to make their own e-lists work more effectively.
Caution has been the watchword of e-marketers since new e-mail marketing laws came into force late last year. Those regulations forbid companies from sending marketing e-mails to cold prospects without their prior permission, and caused something of a hiatus in e-marketing activity among UK companies as marketers worked out what they could and could not do.
Many big brand owners have been proceeding gingerly, says James Martin, head of UK e-business at Acxiom Consodata, which runs the Yoptin offers and rewards online data-gathering programme. Typically, he says, they have given the new rules to their own legal teams and asked them to rewrite them even more stringently to ensure they stay on the right side of the law. For e-mail data suppliers like Acxiom Consodata, this has meant a lot of bureaucracy.
'We have really had to jump through some hoops to ensure we stay on the right preferred supplier lists,' says Martin. 'We have always been whiter than white in terms of the legislation and best practice, so we know we will come out of this OK, but we still have to go through the process.'
On a more positive note, however, Martin adds that, once the process has been worked through, 'there are brand managers out there dying to get back to this medium that has worked so well for them.'
Of course companies with their own customer databases, complete with e-mail addresses, are in a much better position. Not only are they largely untroubled by the legislation, which allows them to continue to communicate with these customers via e-mail as long as they are given the opportunity to request being removed from the process, but they also have much warmer prospects on their hands.
'Our advice generally is for clients to develop their own databases,' says …