The rules on marketing by e-mail are always a hot topic amongst sports clubs and with this in mind, we have provided below some frequently asked questions and answers which we hope you find useful:-

Question: We’re an amateur club not a business – are our e-mails marketing?

Answer: Ultimately this depends on the content of the message, but the Information Commissioner's Office has made it clear that emails promoting charities and not-for-profit organisations are marketing messages for the purpose of the rules.

Question: We get members to provide an e-mail address when they join, can we use these for marketing purposes?

Answer: Only if the individuals have given their permission – in practice this means they must have understood that by providing the e-mail address they were giving consent to marketing messages.  If your sign-up forms don’t make this sufficiently clear, you may wish to consider amending them to avoid any doubts.

Question: Are there any exceptions to this rule?

Answer: There is a so-called “soft opt-in”, but this only applies if you sell and promote commercial goods or services, as follows:

  • You have obtained the individual’s details in the course of a sale or negotiations for a sale of a product or service. 
  • the messages are only marketing similar products or services; and
  • the person is given a simple opportunity to refuse marketing when their details are collected, and if they don't opt out at this point, are given a simple way to do so in future messages.

The requirement for consent also doesn’t apply for e-mails sent to organisations.

Question: What do we have to do in the messages themselves?

Answer: Identify your organisation and provide a valid address for subscribers to opt-out of receiving future communications (backed up by a procedure to ensure opt-out requests are adhered to).

Question: Can we share our marketing list with third parties?

Answer: Third parties are unlikely to be able to use the list in accordance with the rules, as they won’t have obtained permission from the individuals, unless you sought this permission on the other organisation’s behalf when you obtained the address.  You must also ensure that sharing the list would be consistent with the Data Protection Principles and this would require that you tell people at the time who you may share their details with.