Mass messages, fake accounts, unsolicited content and threatening or forceful emails are what comes to our mind when we think of spam – besides that questionably edible canned meat. Similar to the canned meat, spam messaging is completely unwanted (sorry to any spam lovers) but unlike the canned variety spam messaging is illegal within Australia, protecting consumers from those annoying emails.
So what is allowed and not allowed in Australia?
The Australian Spam Act 2003 protects consumers from unsolicited commercial messages.
Commercial messages, can be categorised as:
- Offers, advertises or promotes a supplier of goods, services, land or a provider of business or investment opportunities
- Electronic message is “commercial” if its content, presentation and links signify its commercial motive.
Side note: Considering how great my legal knowledge is, maybe I should click on this spam comment my earlier blog received? (which I definitely marked as spam, and will definitely not be following up, great question though)
So when we talk about businesses sending out unsolicited commercial messages via SMS or email, how do we know when it is considered as spam?
There are two main focal points that businesses mustn’t ignore; these are the ‘opt in’ and ‘opt out’ steps, that is to consent to the messages, with an option to unsubscribe at any given stage.
Consent (Opt in)
To receive promotional emails and information, customers must ‘opt in’ or provide consent to receive these messages. Consumers can provide expressed or inferred consent, failure to gain consent from consumers before sending emails is regarded as sending unsolicited commercial messages – aka. SPAM.
Express consent is where you tick the ‘send me promotional materials’ box next to the ‘I agree to the terms and conditions box’, or when you provide your email to ‘sign up to our subscription list’ when in store purchasing. Consent also extends to whereby if a consumer had chosen to opt out or no longer subscribe, they them imply to not give consent any longer, and must then consent again to receive promotional materials.
Inferred consent is less straight-forward but is the provision of consent based on publicly available work-related address. This means that if the address is not accompanied by a message implicitly stating it is not to receive messages, the sender can provide directly relevant commercial messages to the receiver.
Heres a classic ‘opt in’ option done different by ASOS, where they have multiple boxes to personalise the commercial messages you will receive.
What not to do –> GraysOnline sent out promotional messages to those who had “opted out” and withdrawn their consent to receive promotional materials. The continued sending of commercial messages without consent from those receiver, cost GraysOnline a $165,000 fine.
Unsubscribe (Opt out)
For commercial messaging to further comply with the Australian Spam Act 2003, the business must ensure messaging contains a functional and legitimate unsubscribe facility.
The unsubscribe button we are all likely far too familiar with “click here to unsubscribe” and “to opt out via SMS, reply UNSUB” must function within the message for a minimum of 30 days post message being sent out. The unsubscribe option must be simple to follow at no or minimal cost, and must be honoured within 5 business days
Heres an example of something I recently unsubscribed to:
I was tired of receiving the promotional emails as they were no longer relevant to me, so I used their simple ‘opt out’ link to unsubscribe, the whole process took less than 10 seconds and was clear and straight forward.
What (also) not to do –> Tiger Airways faulty unsubscribe option meant customers weren’t able to properly opt out, and therefore continued to be sent promotional material. The airlines failure to unsubscribe customers landed them a $110,000 fine.
Email Marketing Tips
Beyond the legalities of spam messaging, some tips I have for marketers trying to configure their email and SMS marketing messages are:
- Be transparent about their intentions when it comes to ‘opting in’ and what exactly consumers are signing up for
- Make the unsubscribe feature clear and simple (its always great to prompt the receiver to let you know why they are unsubscribing, so you can adapt the experience for future consumers)
- Send clean and easy to follow personalised emails, nobody wants to be bombarded with urgent call to actions and a whole lot of THIS!!!???
- Offer promotions and incentives for customers to subscribe to mailing lists, perfect example of this is whereby online retailers offer ‘10% off first order’ when you sign up.
So tell me, from consumer or marketing point of view, what are some great tips for businesses to follow when sending out email marketing? What irritates you the most and any negative experiences with spam, or what do you appreciate that a businesses does when sending out commercial messages?