Now is probably not the most opportune time to talk about last summer’s weather. Those with a short memory, or one which filters out the depressing facts, might not like being reminded of the cold, the wet and the unpredictability. The only winners, one would have thought, were companies offering holidays in the sun.
So it is with some satisfaction for those of us who use e-mail marketing for more mundane purposes to hear that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are looking at various aspects of consumer protection law for the travel industry.
The draft guidance covers five main issues, all of which have implications for everyone in email marketing. These are:
1) clear, transparent and upfront price display;
2) the requirement to make clear which airline the customer is booking with;
3) optional extras and the fact that they should be displayed on an opt in basis rather than being preselected;
4) the provision of information in an accurate and timely fashion; and
5) the provision of clear, fair and balanced terms and conditions.
The guidance is seen by many to be a wake-up call to the travel industry. It would be a brave company which, once guidance is issued, ignored the provisions and did not look to its own practices to ensure they conformed. The more prudent might well consider complying with the draft guidance for the New Year.
Those of us with our home-based industries should be wary of smiling smugly and feeling relieved that we can carry on doing things in the same way. This has relevance for all of us.
The word “clear” is used on three of the issues highlighted above, and other adjectives are transparent, upfront, accurate, timely, fair and balanced. One cannot criticise the CAA and the OFT for not being, shall we say, clear in their intent.
For any of us in e-mail marketing being obscure is not an option. If you want to confuse your customers then be aware that the OFT might well react predictably to any complaint.
The fact the guidance stipulates optional extras should be displayed on an opt-in basis is hardly a surprise. Indeed, opting in to e-mail marketing lists has been a requirement for some time. This should be seen as a logical extension of that.
The provision of accurate and timely information again follows recent trends, with both the power supply and the railway industries’ methods of pricing coming in for criticism. Indeed recent personal experience would suggest that some railway franchise holders have already taken clearer pricing on board.
The OFT and CAA guidelines should not cause you concern despite it being obvious that they will be coming to a business like yours soon. You should be checking your marketing e-mails to ensure that they are clear, transparent, fair and all the rest. If you want repeat orders, not to mention the unsubscribe button not being clicked, then research suggests this is the way your customers should describe the way you do business.
Anyone in email marketing would do well to read the full guidance, available on:
About guest blogger :
Aaron Bond is a network marketing researcher with a keen interest in email marketing . His articles aim to provide valuable tips for online business entrepreneurs; helping to create strategies and take action to increase leads and cash flow.
Image courtesy of getwhatyouwant.ca
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