Self-Regulation: The Key to Responsbile Use of Customer Data and 10 Steps to Effectively Implement It

Written By Marlene Larson Conus, CEO, Direct and Digital Marketing Association, Chile
Edited By Manuel Altomonte, Medill IMC Class Of 2015

Published on 10/21/2015

We are experiencing converging technology and new ways of consuming, which have led us to face a new type of consumer: one that’s no longer passive but empowered, who wants to be listened to, who has opinions and criticism, and who’s an active content generator.

Social media has contributed a lot to the rise of these new types of consumers. It has provided a space and tools to communicate directly with brands. This is leading to a change in traditional communication paradigms, from a one-way to a two-way dynamic. It’s precisely in the thorough knowledge companies should have about their consumers where data plays a key role. It’s also here where self-regulation and best practices surrounding responsible marketing become the pillar for effective and respectful communication with customers.

Our lives are connected through a technological revolution that includes mobile devices, computers and different online platforms. To engage in this landscape, brands use customer data as a way to engage in meaningful communication. The available data grows at enormous rates, making it even more relevant for companies, brands and government institutions to be responsible for protecting people’s data — and being conscious that this information is not company-owned, but belongs to each customer.

This being said, we need to promote and apply a set of best practices in communications, keeping vigil for data privacy. Self-regulation has become a best practice to follow, and respect for consumer privacy is a necessary asset for companies. Self-regulation is about respecting, defending and protecting your customers, even when there are no federal laws in place to guide our actions on this matter. Self-regulation is a way to “be accountable” for data provided by your customers, and a way to correctly use this data when engaging in communication with them.

The Direct and Digital Marketing Association of Chile (AMDD) seeks to breed that consciousness among big local companies. The AMDD delivers guidelines (detailed in the list below) to its associates, and to the industry in general, in its “SelfRegulation Code” so that marketers can build healthy, efficient relationships with consumers, taking into consideration the new communication paradigms.

10 Best Practice Principles of the AMDD
  1. Companies must respect their customers and seek their satisfaction.
  2. All communications and direct and digital marketing efforts must be transparent, truthful and complete so consumers can clearly understand what they’re being told and properly evaluate what’s being offered.
  3. Companies must designate someone responsible for adopting all necessary means to comply with the policies and procedures of the best practices in direct and digital marketing.
  4. Companies must include terms in their offering documents and/or contracts that recommend the principles of the AMDD’s “Self-Regulation Code.”
  5. Those companies that have direct and digital marketing activations must include opt-out mechanisms for customers.
  6. Companies that have telemarketing will not call the same person within 30 days regarding a single campaign, unless previous consent from the customer exists.
  7. Companies will call customers for telemarketing campaigns only on weekdays, between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  8. Companies are responsible for keeping their customers’ information permanently up-to-date, eliminating from their database people who are no longer customers, or those who have actively requested to be removed from their database.
  9. Companies must have clear data management policies, which must be available for any customer who wants to read them.
  10. Companies must inform their customers about the type of personal information they have, how and for what means it is being collected, and how it’s stored, utilized and disclosed.

The AMDD has become the go-to guide regarding execution and adoption of marketing best practices within Chilean industries. It plays a similar role as the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), its mirror in the U.S. Similar to the U.S., Chile lacks a general law regarding the use of data in consumption. Europe, on the other hand, pushes, promotes and strengthens self-regulation as the basis of company-customer relations.

In Chile, there is now a bill waiting to be passed in Congress. In its initial stage, the bill seeks to achieve the necessary balance between companies’ usage of data and protecting the privacy of consumers. Here is where the “Self-Regulation Code” and the certification provided by the AMDD can come in to help protect, respect and defend consumers.

Today, a key feature of effective communication is not owning a thorough client database, but understanding and respecting customers, so as to be a trustworthy and stable organization in a marketplace that is growing more demanding, informed and competitive than ever before. [END]


mlarson Marlene Larson Conus is currently the CEO for the Direct and Digital Marketing Association in Chile. She also serves as the executive director for the Women in High Direction organization, which promotes the placement of women to board positions throughout different companies.
DSC_7437* Manuel Altomonte worked in Chile for Mercedes-Benz in corporate communications and marketing, developing and managing communication platforms and PR strategies. He holds a journalist degree with a major in strategic communication from Diego Portales University in Chile, and a diploma in administration and effective leadership from Pontificia Universidad Católica, also in Chile.

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