As a business owner, the use of email can be an effective and powerful tool for connecting with potential clients. It is fast, effective and relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, email has in the past was (and some would argue still is today) exploited too much to the point it became a nuisance. Once upon time not that long ago spamming for clients was a valid and often sort after marketing tool. Now it is a big NO NO. It was overused and frankly gave everybody a big dose of the “OMG not another email I don’t Want Blues” That is the main reason why there are laws such as the Spam Act
Has the Spam act killed email Marketing?
No not really. If anything it has helped businesses get better results with their email campaigns. How it does this, is by providing you the email marketer with a set of rules on how to play the game fairly.
Having said this, there is a lot of miss information about what spam is and what you can and can not do when emailing a potential client. This blog hopes to dispel some of those myths and give you guidance on how to play the email marketing game and not get a red card.
Doesn’t the Spam Act stop business from bothering people?
Kind of, but not entirely, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) see the main function of the Spam Act 2003 as to
… prohibit(s) the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages—known as spam—with an Australian link. A message has an Australian link if it originates or was commissioned in Australia, or originates overseas but was sent to an address accessed in Australia.
The key point here is unsolicited commercial electronic messages. All this basically means if you are a business and want to get in contact with another business electronically you need to the business’s permission to do so.
If you are unsure what a commercial electronic message is, please check out ACMA’s pdf on the subject here
For a Commercial Email to pass the “Not SPAM Test” it needs to:
1: Be consensual: you must have the permission to send the email
2: Be identifiable: your email must clearly identify who is sending the email
3: Be unsubscribe-able: you must provide a mechanism where the recipient can stop any further emails if they wish.
If you meet all three of those elements your email should be safe.
How do I get permission?
There are two forms of permission;
- Express Consent is when you collect an email address from a recipient directly as long as the person is aware they receive a commercial email in the future. You can obtain express consent by a number of ways, mainly:
- Collecting Business cards (providing the recipient is ware of your intent,
- Filling out a form,
- Ticking a box on and website, and
- Calling then via the telephone and asking their permission.
- HOWEVER: You cannot email them for permission.
- Inferred Consent is a bit trickier. You may have have inferred consent if there is an ongoing business relationship and it is expected that you may contact them in the future. You also may have inferred consent if a business and person has publicly disclosed their work related email address and and your business wants to send them a commercial electronic message that relates directly to that person’s line of work. You can not email them if their publication implicitly states for you not to email them.
If you are unsure if you have inferred consent then the best way to get consent is to ask them for it.
Please Beware: Proof of consent is up to you the sender.
Can I use purchased contact lists?
Yes, you can. However you need to ensure two things:
- Consent has been obtained.
- The contact list has not been compiled by the use of electronic harvesting software.
You should ask your list provider to state in writing if the list complies with both of these requirements.