• May 25, 2011
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

New EU Regs to Affect Email and Online Marketing

Eloqua, a provider of revenue performance management solutions, has released new features that help marketers comply with the European Union’s new Web and email tracking regulations. The legislation, which takes effect today, impacts every marketer or retailer that interacts electronically with customers and prospects based in the 28 countries that comprise the European Union.

Under an added amendment to the existing EU privacy directive, organizations conducting online marketing campaigns in the member states must now receive explicit permission, or opt-in consent, to track any individual's actions online, including the use of cookies or other means. Depending on the country, they might also need permission before sending marketing materials via email.

Marketers, e-retailers, and others that rely on such information can get consent in a number of ways. They can, for example, post a click-box on their Web sites, request site visitors to fill out a form that pops up on screen when they visit a site, or ask customers to set their browsers to accept or reject cookies from the sites they visit.

"This is different than in the U.S.," explains Dennis Dayman, chief privacy and security officer at Eloqua. "In the U.S., you have to opt out. There, you have to opt in."

The new European laws will impact multinational corporations the most, according to Dayman. "If a company is headquartered in the U.S., the laws do not apply, but if it has subsidiaries in other countries, it could be affected," he says.

What's definite, though, is that the new regulations will affect how companies do business in Europe. "It adds more complexity to CRM practices and could hinder a company's ability to understand who its customer is," Dayman says.

And while most of Europe has taken a wait-and-see approach to the new regulations, Dayman expects the laws to get stricter as governments try to protect the online privacy of their citizens. "Over the next month or two, you're going to see a greater implementation of our solutions and the solutions of other like us," he predicts.

The new features added to the Eloqua platform now help marketers comply with the new opt-in requirements by automating the process of requesting opt-in consent from online visitors and automatically updating customers' databases with contacts' opt-in status. Eloqua users simply have to check a setting in the application to trigger the automated process, regardless of the recipient's country of residence.

"Companies doing business in the European Union are deeply concerned about staying within the bounds of these new requirements," Dayman says. "Eloqua is staying ahead of these changes by introducing these new features. Once activated, this feature automates the process of requesting opt-in functionality and helps organizations comply with stricter regulations."

Dayman suggests that companies might have greater success receiving permission from customers by properly wording their consent requests. "Tracking is seen as a negative, but if you can tell customers that the information you are collecting will help you to better serve them you'll get a better response," he states.

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