Spam or Ham? Are your emails lawful?

Are you accidentally spamming your client’s inboxes? Are you up to date with the legal requirements for the marketing emails you send out? I will share the basics of keeping on the right side of the law when it comes to email marketing.

The Spam Act of Australia (C2013C00021) is the main legislation that you need to adhere to when you are sending out emails to anyone. The 60 page-long document details exactly what is and is not allowed when you are engaging in electronic communications. Thankfully, you don’t have to read the full Act. I’ve summarised it here for you.

Spam Can

image credits: Vince_Lamb on Flickr

There are three things to keep in mind when you are putting together an email campaign or sending out emails to your client base.

  • Do you have consent from the person who will be receiving the message?

  • Does your message have a clear indication of who is sending the message?

  • Does your message give the receiver an option to unsubscribe from the emails?

Sound simple, doesn’t it? Now, let’s look at each point in a little detail.

Do you have consent from the person who will be receiving the message?

Consent is either express or implied. Express consent refers to the person receiving the message subscribing directly to your mailing list, deliberately ticking a box agreeing to have messages or ads from you, or they have expressly requested from you over the telephone.

Implied consent is the grey area of consent. There needs to be a reasonable expectation by the person receiving the emails that you will send the messages. This can be through:

– an existing relationship with you and they have previously given you their email address;

– they’ve purchased good from you and have given you their electronic address in the general expectation there would be follow-up emails;

– the person receiving the emails has provided you with their address in the understanding there would be day-to-day transactions and that address might be used for additional communications;

– the receiver has registered a product online or a warranty;

– the person receiving the emails has conspicuously published their electronic address unless it’s accompanied by a message stating that it’s not to be used for the purposes of advertising material;

– the person receiving the emails has given you a business card with their email address on it and there’s a reasonable expectation the messages would be sent by email.

So, what should you do if you’re not sure if you have received consent to send marketing emails to them? Don’t send them emails. It’s really that simple. Remove them from your lists. If you are not sure that you have consent, you might get into trouble for sending the emails, even if you provide all the unsubscribe options required by law.

When in doubt, if you are making an option on your website for people to sign up to your email lists, give them “double opt-in” to make sure they understand that you will be sending them messages.

Does your message have a clear indication of who is sending the message?

The sender information to be included in the email is expected to be valid for 30 days after the message is sent. This is in case anyone needs to get in contact with you in a way that isn’t online. This can be easily included into the signature of your email.

Does your message give the receiver an option to unsubscribe from the emails?

Always include an unsubscribe feature in your emails. This can be as simple as a link to another page that automatically removes their email address from your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software or email lists. Automating this means less work for you and adds a surety that you’re not spamming anyone.

Spammy spam spam

image credits: timag on Flickr

So, there are three easy steps to make sure your email marketing campaign is running by the book.

  • Do you have consent of the people you’re sending to?

  • Have you clearly identified your business?

  • Have you given an unsubscribe option?

Got an hour or two to spare? You can read the Spam Act of Australia here:

Spam Act 2003 C2013C00021

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