Direct marketing. Can we still do it?

This week you’re going to review your marketing practices.

First you must know what direct marketing is. Direct marketing is when you approach someone (data subject) in person, by mail, or via electronic communication to

  • promote, or offer to supply, any goods or services to that person,
  • request that person to make a donation of any kind for any reason.

With the POPIA in sight, the rules have changed. From now on, before you send direct marketing to someone for the first time via electronic communication, you must get that person’s consent. Electronic communication includes emails, SMSs, automatic calling machines, and fax machines (yes, they still exist).

You also need to make sure the data subjects know that they have the right to unsubscribe at any time, and you must continue to remind them of that right every time you send them direct marketing. It must be easy to unsubscribe – don’t make anyone jump through hoops.

No, not if you can prove that

  • you obtained the data subject’s contact details in the context of a sale of a product or a service,
  • you obtained the data subject’s contact details for purposes of direct marketing of your own products or services, and
  • the data subject had the opportunity to opt out of receiving the direct marketing every time.

If you cannot prove the above, or if you want to start marketing new, unrelated products or services, you must ask for consent before you can send any electronic direct marketing. You may ask for consent only once.

You don’t need consent to send direct marketing via snail mail or to do telemarketing, BUT you must still give the customers the opportunity to opt out from receiving any further marketing every time you aim direct marketing to them. You must also comply with all the other rules of the POPIA.


Review your newsletter or customer sign-up form.
Do they allow data subjects to give their permission to market to them?

The sign-up form shouldn’t collect information you don’t need or won’t use. For instance, if you only need the data subjects’ email addresses to send them a newsletter; don’t ask for their occupation and physical address. In fact, if it is not important to know who they are, don’t even ask their names.

We’ve designed a perfect example of

  • a stand-alone sign-up for a newsletter, and
  • a sign-up for services or products that includes a newsletter sign-up.

Unsure about when to ask for consent? We try to answer all your questions here.

Still not sure? Remember that you have a free one-hour consultation included with this programme! Use it, and contact us if you have any questions about this week’s topic.