It is crucial for businesses to explore all possible avenues they have at their disposal to market their products or services. Direct marketing offers significant opportunities for businesses to reach new customers and re-engage with existing ones.

It can, however, be difficult to navigate the strict rules around direct marketing. Businesses can often be unaware that their direct marketing activity is not compliant and runs the risk of breaching marketing laws.

So, how can businesses navigate the direct marketing minefield?


Method of marketing                  

Mine to watch out for

    Direction to take      

Live calls

Opting Out

Both consumers and businesses have a right to opt out of this type of marketing.   

Currently, you do not need to have an express “opt-in” method in order to make live calls however, there are proposals to change this!

 Before picking up the phone, screen the number you are about to call against:

 the telephone preference service (for consumers);


the corporate telephone preference service (for businesses).


Recorded calls


Specific consent 

Specific consent  is required, calls should not be made to numbers where you don’t have the necessary consent.

 Ensure you have specific consent


E-mails and texts

Consumer Consent Required  Consent to this type of marketing is required from consumers.

Do not send emails or text messages unless you have express consent or can rely on soft opt-in.

Soft opt- in is not always available and requires customer to have been given this choice at the time the data was first collected.

Email and text marketing to consumers requires express consent.

 It is, possible to rely on “soft opt-in”, provided:

  1. the customer has bought products or services from you recently; and
  2. they did not expressly opt-out at the time of purchase or in any subsequent marketing; and
  3. the marketing relates to similar services or products

E-mail and text marketing to businesses is currently permitted without consent.


Mail Preference Service

Recipients can register their address with the Mail Preference Service, which then prevents you from sending postal marketing to that address.


 Provide clear guidance and a   simple way for recipients to   opt out of receiving your   postal  marketing. 

Screen addresses against the   Mail Preference Service.


It is important to note that there are a number of nuances and additional considerations to bear in mind with direct marketing. The application of the rules often depends on the specific circumstances, the nature of the marketing campaign and the type of customers your business deals with.

It is crucial for businesses to avoid breaches when carrying on its direct marketing activities, as the financial penalties and reputational harm which it can result in can be severe.

If you wish to discuss direct marketing or data compliance issues with us, please contact us on 0161 941 4000 and ask to speak to a member of our GDPR team. Alternatively you can email us directly.