Email is a cheap way to reach large numbers of people. We suggest that every business should have an email list that they send to regularly as part of their online marketing strategy.
But when does sending email become spam?
Spam is essentially unwanted email. If you make sure your readers are recieving quality content, know who you are and have the opportunity to unsubscribe if they want to, then there will rarely be any problems.
The Spam Act 2003
In Australia the Spam Act 2003 makes it illegal to contact anyone by email without their prior consent – which means that any email you send to someone without asking them first could be considered a breach if interpreted strictly.
The catch comes as the idea of inferred consent. For example, as a designer you may send your clients an email offering them a new product or a follow-up service, and because they’ve dealt with you before you have inferred consent to contact them again.
You also need to make sure that you properly identify yourself as the sender of the email. If you have proper attribution it will also build trust in the reader’s mind when they see that a real person
There are also rules relating to mailing lists or newsletters that say that readers must be able to unsubscribe by asking not to be contacted again. The opportunity to unsubscribe must be presented in each email you send someone.
Basically, if your business uses any form of e-marketing you must understand and meet the following three key requirements of the Spam Act:
- Consent – make sure you have consent to contact the recipient and can prove you have obtained it.
- Identify – include information to identify yourself as the authorised sender of the message.
- Unsubscribe – make sure your messages have a functional unsubscribe facility so that recipients can unsubscribe at any time.
These rules apply to not only email but SMS (text message), MMS (image based text messages) or instant messaging.
No-one wants to be a spammer, it’s bad for your reputation and your business. However, this doesn’t mean you have to leave email behind. If you follow these guidelines and use your common sense you can still use email as a powerful marketing tool to great success.