The Protection of Personal Information Act comes into effect on 1 July. The Act will change the way you communicate with your clients, but it’s also a great opportunity to spring clean your database.

The imminent arrival of POPIA has sent South Africa into a tailspin. The Act has legal implications for almost all businesses, specifically relating to how you manage and protect your customers’ data in an online world. Change is always scary. But instead of throwing your arms up in despair, why not familiarise yourself with the new requirements?

First up, all direct marketing communication must contain your identity and contact details. This is hardly a big deal, as you almost certainly comply already.

It gets slightly more complicated when it comes to maintaining your email database… For your existing clients, POPIA follows an “opt out” approach: your clients must be given the opportunity to say they don’t want to receive marketing emails from you. This needs to happen every time you sign on a new client, and in every direct marketing communication they receive from you. It’s easy to comply – simply add an unsubscribe button to your email template, if you haven’t done so already.

When it comes to potential customers, POPIA requires that they “opt in” – you need to ask permission before you add them to your database. Again, this isn’t rocket science and something that is probably already built into your website in the form of a pop-up encouraging people to sign up for your newsletter, for example.

Time to de-clutter

From a personal perspective, why not take this opportunity to go through your e-mail inbox and unsubscribe from all the junk mail that is of no interest to you or your business? Doing so will free up some head space and allow you to focus on the important things. At the same time, try to seek out quality content. Subscribe to newsletters that are well-written, easy to understand and add value to your learning experience and your business offering.

On the business front, it’s a great opportunity to spring clean your marketing database, especially if you use a bulk mailing system like MailChimp or Everlytic. These services are cheaper the fewer e-mails you send, so getting rid of the padding in your list will save you money. It will also help you focus your messaging and make sure the right people receive your message.

What’s next?

POPIA applies to everyone, including FinCommunications, so feel free to click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this mail. But we’d hate to see you go, because you’d be missing out on all the good stuff we’ve got planned. As a specialist financial marketing firm, we understand what messaging works and what doesn’t, what your clients will value and what they’ll trash before reading. We also produce some great content of our own, and it would be a real pity if those insights don’t reach your inbox.

Some clients have been asking about other ways of communicating, using LinkedIn Mail for example. This might bypass POPIA requirements because the service is entirely hosted on a platform outside South Africa. But it’s too soon to advise on such measures. Even the lawyers are still confused about how exactly the Act will be enforced, if at all.

For now, take a deep breath, go through your mailing list and think about how you speak to your clients. If you’re concerned about the effectiveness of your marketing, or whether it will be POPIA-compliant, get in touch. We will gladly assist.

Stay safe,

Linda Graham