The biggest risk to retaining customers on your database is when you send them email marketing. Up until then it is safe to assume that they are quite content with their relationship with you. But as soon as the email drops into an inbox the threats to your database mount.
There is ample evidence that keeping your customers subscribed is of greater benefit than making just the one sale. Whilst they remain on your list you can always try them again and again. If by your conduct you gain their trust then a lot of your problems are over. Apart from the main one, of course, of how to remain trusted.
It seems that most customers, particularly businesses, have some degree of knowledge of consumer law especially where it applies to their rights. A sure way of risking your relationship with them is to fail to comply with the law.
And, worryingly, to fail to comply with their expectations.
The Privacy and Electronics Communications Regulations (PECR) requires that a customer must ‘previously notify’ the sender of their willingness to receive direct marketing email campaigns. However, as this is generally taken as meaning that there should be an explicit opt-in by the recipient any move towards a more generous interpretation might well be seen as risky. You might think that it would be a risk worth taking with customers you feel might elude you otherwise but there is a danger. Rather than just clicking the delete button the recipient might well decide to class your email as spam which can have repercussions. Unfair though the system might be, it all goes into a database and, if enough do it, you could end up on a black list along with, if such exists, ‘genuine’ spam.
The implication of the black list means that, whilst it may be an anathema to many, the unsubscribe procedure should be obvious and fairly straightforward. If it frustrates the recipient then the spam button is so very easy to click. Even a post-unsubscribe email asking why they have decided against continuing to be on your list, whilst not proscribed by law, might well be classed as spam. An option could be to state clearly during the opt-out procedure that a confirmatory email will be sent.
Your customers are trusting you with their data so need reassuring all the time that you will not abuse that trust. Whilst most know the fundamentals of the laws, the niceties might well have passed them by so bear this in mind when doing anything which is not quite straightforward.
Soft opt-ins, whilst fully within the regulations, might surprise the recipient so some explanation should be of help. But instead of confusing them with clause 22(3) of the PECR, or even quoting it in full, tell them that they have been sent the email because of its connection with the item they have already bought.
A paragraph in EEC regulations that is based on common sense is rare enough to be exciting, so it seems only fair to use common sense in its interpretation. Therefore if they chose an expensive once-in-a-lifetime holiday shy away from offering professional debt counselling.
Remember that if you think your ploy is rather risqué your customers might well think so as well. You might well be right in law, but you would be right without a customer. To become trusted in their eyes you should be sympathetic to their expectations.