Your subscriber database is one of your most important assets – allowing you to send important information to a large group of interested customers with the click of just one button. But do you have consent from your subscribers or are you sending them ‘spam’?
Australia has very specific laws protecting consumers from unwanted commercial electronic communications (otherwise known as spam). Specifically, the Spam Act 2003 sets out the three main rules that apply when sending commercial electronic messages:
- Consent: In Australia, commercial electronic messages may only be sent to a person if they have consented to receiving these messages.
- Identity: Any commercial electronic messages that you send must include clear and accurate information regarding your identity and how people can contact you.
- Unsubscribe: Your messages must include an unsubscribe facility, including instructions on how to opt-out of receiving messages from you. Note that, by law, any ‘unsubscribe’ requests must be actioned within five working days.
For a more detailed explanation of the Spam Act requirements, read my article ‘Who wants some spam?’
What does this mean for you?
There are a few things that you need to do to ensure you are complying with the anti-spam regulations.
1. Make sure you do have consent from all your subscribers
The easiest way to ensure you have consent from your subscribers is to obtain that consent at the point at which they join your mailing list. Most subscribers get onto your mailing list by either subscribing via your website, purchasing a product or service, or accessing an e-product such as a free eBook download.
Here is a simple way to obtain consent:
STEP 1: Your Terms and Conditions should include a section about Subscriptions that explains what it means to ‘subscribe’. For more information on Website Terms and Conditions, have a look at this article.
Here’s what I have in my DIY Small Business Terms and Conditions relating to Subscriptions:
By providing your email address and/or contact details to us either through this website or otherwise, you agree to be added to our database and to receive communications from us, including electronic messages, about our services and products and to receive regular updates from us.
STEP 2: Above the ‘Subscribe’ button, include a statement saying something like, “By subscribing, you agree to our Terms and Conditions”. Make sure you include a link to your actual Terms and Conditions. For an example, check out my subscription form on the DIY Small Business website.
2. Check your information on your email marketing templates
Review all of your email marketing templates to make sure that they do in fact contain your identifying information (i.e. your name and/or your Business Name) and accurate contact information.
3. Review your Unsubscribe Facility
Check that you have an unsubscribe facility embedded in your email marketing template and that the facility is working properly. For example, if your email is a simple Outlook template, you may include a statement at the end of your email stating: “To unsubscribe, please reply with the words “Unsubscribe” in the subject line.”
4. Have processes in place to manage unsubscribe requests
By law, you have only five working days to action any unsubscribe requests – so make sure you have appropriate processes in place to manage this obligation.
How to keep it simple?
All of these obligations can sound a bit overwhelming at first, but don’t despair! There are several email marketing programs that can be used to manage these obligations. My favourite program is MailChimp.
MailChimp is an online email marketing program that can be used to manage the entire subscription process: including subscribing, updating member information and unsubscribe requests. In addition, MailChimp has heaps of email templates that already have the contact information and unsubscribe links embedded into the template – and they look great too! The best thing about MailChimp is that it is free to use if you have less than 2,000 subscribers and send less than 12,000 emails per month.
If you’re new to MailChimp and would like some help, get in touch about my Mastering MailChimp Workshop.
How do you manage your compliance obligations?
Managing a business can be complicated enough without having to also worry about the many compliance and legal requirements and risks. The good news is there are some simple things you can do to manage some of those obligations, especially through ensuring you have the right Terms and Conditions for your website.
When was the last time you reviewed your Terms and Conditions? Do you have the right processes in place to manage your anti-spam obligations?