POPI is not yet in effect, but good privacy procedures when contacting your clients and prospects not only puts you on the right side of the POPI and the CPA, but protects your firm when people get irate when receiving marketing from your firm and stops your email domain from being blacklisted by email security systems – something that will take a lot of work and time to recover a domain good standing.
When to ask the contact for permission
It is always a little awkward to ask for permission to SPAM the hell out of somebody, although you are not planning on SPAMMING people, asking for permission always seems like your intension is to go wild.
So your request should be to ask for permission to offer bi-monthly legal advice in layman terms that will benefit your clients. Also telling them that at any stage a simple opt out or email will terminate the newsletter permanently.
When the client or prospect comes into your office to sign documents that you have prepared for them, including a simple permission paragraph in a letter that describes your contact details and firm overview will get your permission with the least amount of fuss.
Your client introduction letter
When doing business with a new client, include the paragraph about receiving legal information emails.
Online in the blog or webpage
This is where you should adopt the “Double Opt In” policy – when the client enters their email address to receive the newsletter, they get an email a few seconds later for them to click on and confirm the subscription. If they don’t confirm, they are not subscribed – simple as that. This normally helps when people say they cannot remember the registration as the two step process is more easily remembered.
Protecting your email domain
The simplest way to protect your email domain is to use a bulk email system, either with an external domain name like “johndoeattorneysnewsletters.co.za” so that your firm domain of “johndoeattorneys.co.za” is safe from being blacklisted or better still use an email newsletter service like LawDotNews – Jack and Paddy have great services to offer and have been in the game for many years.
If you have the time and resources and content to go this on your own, use bulk email systems like aWeber.com or MailChimp.com – to mention two of many. We use aWeber, not the cheapest, but one of the best available.
When starting to use newsletters to your huge contact list
Make sure you ask permission in the first email you send, with an opt out in the paragraph where you introduce the newsletter and at the bottom of the email, which should be in every email newsletter you send out.
In your request for permission to go ahead, don’t offer a check box to confirm the subscription permission, rather have a check box to opt out, people’s minds just work that way – they are happy to leave something as it is than to take the small effort to tick the box. I hope you get what I am saying, sort of confusing myself – the idea is to have an Opt Out checkbox instead of an Opt In checkbox.
Your databases you have in your legal computer systems are large and more accurate than any other in business, use them to help market your firm. It is still one of the most effective ways to market your business.
Never, ever, ever share your database with anybody else – marketing firms would kill for your quality contact information and once it in somebody else’s hands, the control is lost and you will be in deep water.
Also protect this information, ask your IT vendors to make sure it is not vulnerable to attack. Prevent people from taking copies of the information home to work on them – notebooks, memory sticks get lost and stolen – that data in the wrong hands will cause untold drama for your firm.