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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

DMC Quarterly Newsletter

25th June, 2009 at 16:21pm

Foreword from the Chairman Matti Alderson:

“Welcome to the second newsletter from the Direct Marketing Commission. We’ve now finished our second quarterly complaints index and continue to see a sustained high level of compliance in the industry. Our index for the first quarter of 2009 yielded interesting findings. Notably, the biggest rise in complaints was made against database companies increasing from 6 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year to 9 per cent this quarter.

The Commission is independent of the industry. But it’s important that we remain at the forefront of new issues with the continued support of the Direct Marketing Association and its members, and we’re doing that through our Joint Policy Forum where we work together to spot trends and make sure direct marketers know how to follow the Code of Practice.

We also aim to raise the profile of the DMC through the media, raising awareness of the DMC'S role as a watchdog for the DM industry. This increased awareness will encourage consumers, businesses and policy makers and those who regulate them in other spheres to contact us for help and guidance if they have a concern or issue that falls within our wide range of responsibilities.”

Recent News

  • We have recently set up a Joint Policy Forum with the Direct Marketing Association, which enables us to work together to encourage direct marketers to adhere to the high standards and best practice that our industry requires.
  • Our QCI from the first quarter of 2009 yielded interesting findings. Notably, data-related complaints are on the rise: The biggest rise in complaints were made against database companies. This rose from 6 per cent in Q4 2008 to 9 per cent this quarter.
  • The second most common area of complaint (14 per cent) fell under the heading of ‘unwanted mail’; postal marketing sent to consumers that was unsolicited – a 4 per cent rise on the last quarter.

Complaints trends

 
Complaints trends

Of the 88 complaints received by the DMC in this period, 54 were investigated and resolved informally without the need for any formal action, with the remainder in the process of resolution. The index reveals a continued willingness for compliance in the UK Direct Marketing industry but there has been a noticeable rise in complaints about direct mail and against database companies.

Top line figures include:
• 61% of complaints resolved without need for any formal action
• Financial accounts/invoicing issues biggest source of complaint (15% of total)
• Direct Mail issues second biggest cause of grievance (14% of complaints)
• Complaints against database companies have risen to 9% of total

Interview: George Kidd, Commissioner

1. How do you see mobile marketing evolving?

I hope the market will grow steadily. In time, and it will not be that long, I hope we can see and use our mobiles as we do fixed link web services. I want to create my mobile Favourites – a wide range of practical, useful, free or affordable services that make mobiles as functionally indispensable as they are fashionably indispensable for my kids today. And when it comes to marketing I would like to help create an environment in which people are open to relevant, honest marketing, rather than feel the need to opt-out.

2. What are the biggest challenges for both brands and agencies in using mobile phones as a marketing channel?

If the mobility of people and their phones opens opportunities, it also poses challenges. There are more unknowns with mobile marketing. You do not know where your target customer is when they receive your messages. You do not know what country she or he is in – or in what time-zone. You are unlikely to know what is sitting alongside your marketing in terms of other marketing or other experiences the customer is having with her or his mobile

3. Given all of the hype about digital marketing, do you still think that telemarketing has a useful role to play?

The fundamental question with telemarketing – and other forms of marketing – is “does it work”? No business or third sector group is going to keep doing something that does not deliver returns. The DMA talks of a cold-call paradox: people surveyed can be highly critical and may say they never buy based on telemarketing. But between three and four times as many do buy as say they do.

That said I am not surprised to see businesses move towards “warm calls” – telephone based activity that builds on an existing customer relationship that can be broadened, deepened and improved.

4. What do you think is the biggest regulatory challenge facing the DM industry at the moment?

In a “converged” digital world old-school boundaries between regulators and their rules blur or get washed away. In a digital world it is far harder for state agencies to move at the speed needed or to have the flexibility of approach necessary to handle evolving technologies and services that do not recognise national boundaries. But, at the same time, there is an understandable reluctance on the part of governments and the Commission in Brussels to accept industry based arrangements or independent action by some businesses as assured or adequate without some sort of under-pinning. This is a world in which I think it is critical that businesses see regulation as a benefit and not just a cost or big stick hanging over them. Effective regulation builds trust and confidence in a market – and a public readiness to buy and experiment. That is an environment in which businesses can then invest and innovate and earn a return.

 
 
Complaints case study:
Mr. Jones claimed that someone unknown to him had signed up to a website using his email address. He claimed he was then opted in to receive emails and newsletters which he did not want. The company in question explained that the consumer had registered before he played various games online, and all registrations receive a welcome email on the day of registration. The company confirmed that they did not sell lists to third parties. However, the only parties who would have obtained his information would be those companies sponsoring the few competitions that he entered which linked to the website. The DMC Directorate were satisfied that the website in question and the sponsor sites made it clear as to how the consumer’s data would be used. The consumer’s account was locked to avoid anyone trying to re-activate it, and the matter was resolved.

© Direct Marketing Commission Ltd. 2009. Copyright is held by the DMC. This document should not be copied in whole, or in part, without the express written permission of the DMC.

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