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New privacy laws good for email marketing

Soon after the revised version of Protection Principles of the Personal Data Ordinance launched on 1 April aiming at re-tightening direct marketing, marketers and email marketing agencies would easily be assumed to react negatively: however, the situation isn’t so doom and gloom.

Regina Leung, Epsilon’s vice president of marketing international, calls the tightened provisions “fairly well-balanced between commercial practicality and the protection of individual’s personal information”.

“The impact of this amendment would not, and shouldn’t, freeze how businesses operate their direct marketing programmes, unless they have been heavily seeded using non-permission-based third-party data and have not retained customer information collected prior to 1 April, 2013.”

Currently, the new tightened provisions require marketers to seek permission from users prior to spreading their personal information; in the process, they need to provide an explanation as to how and where they will distribute the subject’s personal data.

Thus, for Leung, the new rule is actually a drive for marketers to think about what to do with the information prior to collection rather than running into a big data roadblock afterwards.

“Essentially, the new regulation helps companies build relevant marketing communications and form better relationship with their customers,” she said.

Though email marketing has yet to be slumped by the revised policy, it still can’t let its guard down given the soaring popularity of social media and instant messaging venues like Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.

Leung, however, remains confident that email-marketing is at a parallel with social media pushes.

“The email channel on social networking sites is not ‘consumed’ by users like with other web emails or work emails, which have been, over the years, established as the primary inbox for communicating private, personal and commercial messages.”

Francis Kwok, chief executive officer of Radica Systems, agreed, adding that the new policy has limited effects on Radica.

“Customer database marketing is getting more important than before. While more marketers feel social media marketing is important, it is hard to measure ROI.”

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