DMA Updates Its 'Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice'
New York, NY, May 25, 2011 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), through its Ethics Committees and its Board, today announced it has modified and updated its Guidelines for Ethical Business Practices. The Guidelines now include new provisions for social media marketers; changes reflecting the passage of new laws; and updated material addressing consumers’ recent concerns.
The Guidelines provide individuals and organizations involved in the full spectrum of direct marketing channels with generally accepted principles of conduct. “The DMA Guidelines and their enforcement are the linchpins of DMA’s self-regulation,” said Senny Boone, DMA’s senior vice president of corporate & social responsibility. “The changes and updates more accurately reflect best practices for today’s marketing practitioner based on current law — and encompass progressive marketing — to ensure that consumer trust flourishes along with new social channel development.”
Highlights of the changes to the Guidelines include:
- DMA Member Principles: The high-level principles that underscore the Guidelines now include a principle for good corporate, environmental, community, and financial stewardship in addition to assuring customer satisfaction. The DMA’s Committee on Environment & Social Responsibility, which proposed these changes, wants to ensure that the marketing community adheres to an environmental and community stewardship goal as part of being responsible marketers.
- Social Media Marketing: (Articles # 40, 43) The Articles for commercial solicitations online have been expanded to include definitions for social media marketing, recognizing that the use of social media marketing techniques require a review of mobile and email marketing rules (including CAN-SPAM). Social media continues to present tremendous opportunities, as well as risks without adequate self-regulation to protect consumers.
Guidelines include sections for social marketers to provide consumers with greater transparency, choice, and notice about the use of personally identifiable information. Social media platforms and forums are required to post privacy policies in a prominent location so that they are clear and conspicuous to users. They are required to advise users about privacy policies, data deletion policy, and steps users should follow to change their privacy settings, to delete or deactivate their accounts.
New sections have also been added regarding marketers who wish to engage with an individual user’s social network — to ensure that the marketer provides the individual and their network with appropriate notice, choice, and transparency.
- Consumer Choices: For consumers who wish to opt out or modify their marketing preferences: DMA’s longstanding Commitment to Consumer Choice (Article #31) was updated to make sure marketers provide consumers with a point-of-contact on their communications — rather than a lengthy notice — to allow consumers to modify their preferences.
The contact is where a consumer can go to modify their mailing preferences and learn more about the company’s privacy policies regarding the collection, use, and transfer of their information. This point of contact information should be a no-cost option — a website, 800 number, or address where a consumer may indicate their preferences, including stopping the receipt of solicitations. This is very important for those consumers who are seeking help from marketers for a specific concern. Such accessibility is key to best practices.
- Mail & Email Suppression Files: As a reminder, members are required to use DMA’s consumer preference lists (the MPS/DMAchoice suppression files, E-MPS, deceased, and caretaker files) before launching a prospect campaign, to ensure mailings are not sent to consumers who have opted out or are deceased. Guidelines have been updated to ensure that members are listed on the DMAchoice.org site so that a consumer may contact the company directly to modify their preferences if they choose.
- Advance Consent/Negative Option: (Article 12) This Article applies to all media, and addresses marketing plans where the consumer gives consent to receive and pay for goods and services in the future on a continuing or periodic basis, unless and until the consumer cancels the plan. The Article was modified for improvements in the notices of terms and conditions provided to the consumer, and to be in line with the recently passed Restore Online Shopper’s Confidence Act.
Due to concerns that some consumer information was being shared without permission in a small number of instances, the Ethics Policy Committee revised the sections to list the steps needed, regardless of channel, to ensure that the consumer is fully informed. The Article outlines requirements when the marketer makes the initial offer; which material terms and conditions should apply; providing the goods and services to the consumer; what should take place upon cancellation; and includes a section for Internet sales prohibiting the sharing of financial account numbers or billing information of the customer to a post-transaction third-party seller.
Third-party sellers must clearly and conspicuously disclose to the purchaser a description of the goods and services being offered and all material terms of the offer. The consumer must provide express informed consent (providing the complete account information to be charged, providing the consumer’s name and address and a means to contact the consumer and clicking a confirmation button or otherwise demonstrating consent to the charges.)
DMA members with questions may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Senny Boone at 202.861.2498. No-cost webinars for members on the new Guidelines will be announced shortly.
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About Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org) is the leading global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques. DMA advocates standards for responsible marketing, promotes relevance as the key to reaching consumers with desirable offers, and provides cutting-edge research, education, and networking opportunities to improve results throughout the end-to-end direct marketing process. Founded in 1917, DMA today represents companies from dozens of vertical industries in the US and 48 other nations, including nearly half of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as nonprofit organizations.
In 2010, marketers – commercial and nonprofit – spent $153.3 billion on direct marketing, which accounted for 54.2% of all ad expenditures in the United States. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately $1.798 trillion in incremental sales. In 2010, direct marketing accounted for 8.3% of total US gross domestic product. Also in 2010, there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.8 million US jobs.
The Power of Direct: Relevance. Responsibility. Results.
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