When is email spam not spam?
I’ve been on a mission lately – to take on spam. With GDPR around the corner, and controversy surrounding Facebook and use of personal data, you’d think that business owners and marketers would be aware of how they collect and use data from others in their network. But unfortunately (either through not knowing, or not caring) there is still behaviour going on that frustrates us!
Any mass email marketing lists that I have not opted in to (or where I have an existing relationship with the person sending said email), I’m unsubscribing, selecting the ‘I did not sign up for this’ option and sending a personal email explaining why I took the action I did. This does take time out my day, but I do believe that with education, we can change bad marketing habits.
I won’t be doing this anymore. Instead, I’ll be reporting these emails as spam.
Last week, I got an email which started with “Hi Paula, We’ve been connected on LinkedIn for a while now…’ After checking to see if it was a LinkedIn private massage (it was not) and if it was from their personal email to mine (again it’s a no), and seeing it was from an email marketing platform, in my view this was clearly spam.
Let’s have a look at what consent is under Australian Law.
Express and implied consent
Express consent is where someone has clearly opted in to receiving ‘commercial electronic communications’ from you. They’ve signed up to get your email newsletter or downloaded a lead magnet. They may have agreed to this over the phone or have handed you a business card and said they want to be added to your list. It’s explicitly clear that this person wants to hear from you.
Implied (or inferred consent) is where you have an existing commercial relationship with them (for example, they are a client or a supplier) and you would reasonably think that they want to hear from you. I know I like hearing from my suppliers about what they’re up to.
Have a look here for more on express and implied consent. There is also an excellent FAQ on gaining legitimate consent.
How can spam impact your email marketing?
The question you should always ask before adding someone to your list is ‘how have I obtained consent to market to this person?’ If you can’t answer it, then rethink adding them.
What you risk if you start having huge amount of people unsubscribe and report you for spam, is that your email won’t end up in people’s inboxes. They’ll end up in spam. And the more this happens, the more you will have what we call an ‘email deliverability’ problem. Your reputation with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) is likely to tank and you’ll have a hard time getting anyone to see, let alone open, your emails.
Now back to my example
So the email I received had this in the footer “This is not an attempt to start to send you unsolicited emails”. Actually, it is. It came from Infusionsoft, not your inbox.
From AMCA’s FAQs “The Spam Act prohibits messages that aim to ‘test the water’, or gauge the recipient’s interest in receiving future commercial messages. These kinds of messages are in themselves commercial, as they seek to establish a commercial relationship. You need to gain consent through other means.”
I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty clear to me. Connecting with someone on LinkedIn, in and of itself, does not mean that you have gained consent to market to them through email.
Will you join me in creating better marketing habits? Let’s have a marketing culture where we respect personal information and build communities (and email databases) of those who genuinely want to hear from us, not just to boost numbers.
Growing your business with LinkedIn
With all the controversy surrounding Facebook recently, the one thing it has highlighted for many businesses, is not to put all of your marketing budgets and resources in just one platform. In this article we’ll look at 5 ways you can use LinkedIn to grow your business.
As at February 2018, there are approximately 4.2 million Australians using LinkedIn, so the opportunity to meet new people and do business are significant. However, not everyone uses the platform properly and there is some bad behaviour that has popped up. If, like me, you’ve accepted a connection request, then immediately been bombarded with sales messages in your Inbox and email, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Let’s look at 4 ways you can use LinkedIn that is going to add value to your brand (and not annoy people along the way!)
Staying connected with your existing connections
Before you go off and find new people to connect with, have you looked at your current list of connections? When was the last time you engaged with their content, or reached out to them privately?
Start small – commit to 5 to 10 minutes a day where you like and comment on content, and even send a InMail or two sharing information that is of value. What I also like to do is use InMails to invite someone out for a coffee to catch up (or even a quick phone call) and see how I can help them.
How can you help your existing connections and be of service to them?
Stay connected after a networking event
So, you go to a networking event and meet some great people. What do you do next?
What you don’t want to do is add them to your email database straight away (unless you actually asked the if you could, then you have consent) and start blasting them with sales messages. Not only will you do some serious damage to your reputation and your brand, you’re likely to get reported for spam which has serious impacts on your online reputation with email marketing providers.
Instead, consider sending a connection request (personalised of course!) thanking them for their time at the networking event, and you look forward to connecting with them. At this time, do not send or push any sales messages, or even
Remember, this is not a race. Building solid business relationships takes time.
Use your LinkedIn company page to educate your audience
Your LinkedIn company page is a great channel to educate your audience about what you do and how you help. Share interesting content that helps your followers from a variety of sources (similar to how you would for your Facebook page). And use video to really help engage and connect with potential new audiences.
Sponsored posts can be used to amplify your own created content, to reach a greater audience. Make sure you are using this tool to drive traffic to your website, either to a blog article (just like this one!) or to a lead capture page).
Post interesting content from your personal profile
Just like you share content on your company page, it’s a great idea to share interesting and engaging content through your personal profile. This is an opportunity to showcase your expertise and demonstrate thought leadership in your industry.
Some tips on creating content:
- Understand your audience and talk to them appropriately
- Don’t be afraid to express an opinion
- Use video natively as it will play automatically in the newsfeed
- Test different lengths of content
- Use the ‘Write an article too’ for long form content
Over to you
How do you use LinkedIn in your business?
Social Media Nibbles E01: Big Marketing Changes are Coming. Are you Ready?
Hello and welcome to Social Media Nibbles, I’m your host Paula O’Sullivan, social media strategist and head possum at Possum Digital. Today in our very first episode we’re going to have a look at what marketers need to know for when GDRP rolls out on May 25 and how this may impact us here in Australia.
Now first a very short disclaimer, this podcast is not legal advice for your company to use or rely on in complying with any data privacy laws, like the GDPR or the Spam Act. It purely serves to provide background information to help you better understand these issues. Please contact your lawyer for specific advice.
Now back to the podcast.
Unless you’ve been hiding a rock you know that Facebook has been the subject of much controversy, especially on the issue of personal privacy. Well this combined with the European General Data Privacy Regulation will see huge changes to the way we collect and use data to market our goods and services to potential customers.
Taking a quick step back, in Australia we currently have the Spam Act and also privacy legislation, which governs certain marketing activities. For example to be able to send commercial or electronic messages, like broadcast email marketing or SMS, you need to gain express consent to collect and use that information. You also need to make sure that you store personal data, like email addresses and phone numbers in a safe and secure way.
If you do not have consent you’re effectively sending spam, and we all know what spam is like. You sign up to an email list, all of a sudden you get bombarded with email marketing and things that you never thought you’d receive from anyone else. If someone has not gained your consent, they can’t send email marketing to you. So just be aware.
So how will GDPR impact what we do as marketers in Australia? At this point I want to highly recommend that you speak to a lawyer, if you want to know if your business will definitely be impacted by GDPR or not. Even if you’re in Australia you can be impacted, so make sure you get advice.
Broadly the key changes are around two central themes, firstly express consent and stronger regulations around that. Secondly data rights.
Let’s work through this issue in a classic marketing funnel.
When someone arrives on a lead capture page or blog page of your website, there will need to be explicit transparency around how their data will be used. This is not just for collecting email addresses but also for third party pixels. If you’re using say a Facebook pixel or a Google pixel to re market to people that come to your site, then they need to know what you’re actually going to be using that data for.
If someone comes along, gives you their information, agrees to the purpose that you’ll use that data, you need to make sure that you’re very clear about what you’re going to be using it for.
So if this person decides to give you their information, only collect the information that is relevant to why you are wanting to have it in the first place. If you don’t need a phone number, so if you’re giving away something for free that you’re going to be sending via email, and you have no reason to phone this person, then think about whether you actually need to collect it or not.
The third piece to this funnel puzzle, data needs to be stored in a secure way, and be updated if requested. If someone rings you up and says, hey I need to change my phone number, my address, my email. You need to update that as per their request, and businesses will be required to keep records to prove that they have consent to hold the information.
Which leads to how long you can hold onto the information for, it appears that the answer is only as long as you need. Now I know that sounds really quite vague, so essentially going back to the reason you collected the data in the first place. What did you communicate at the time someone signed up?
If that person signs up to a lead capture page, they then go on an email journey and then don’t open an email or don’t receive communication for six months, 12 months, two years. Is it really worthwhile holding onto that information? That’s something to think about as well.
Lastly, and this is really, really important if someone wants you to delete their data you’ve got to do it no questions asked.
The GDPR changes, relate to your own website and your own digital architecture, they’re only one piece to the puzzle, the other part relates directly to third party platforms that you use to market your business.
This includes social media.
Doing the rounds of Facebook recently are Facebook’s updated terms of service for their advertising platform.
Let’s look at the key changes here for marketers and businesses.
So Facebook says, “If you are an agency acting on behalf of an advertiser you are responsible for the data that is collected through Facebook or uploaded as custom audiences.” In real language what that actually means is you need to help your clients comply with the new guidelines. If you’re an agency and you manage data and advertising on your clients’ behalf, have a look at whether your contract terms and conditions accommodate for this, and making sure that you educate your clients as to what they need to do to comply.
The next change Facebook says, “You or partners acting on your behalf may not place pixels associated with your business manager or ad account on websites that you do not own without our written permission.”
What this actually means your pixels that you own through your business manager can only go on your website, or websites that you own. That’s it. So this may have consequences for marketers that use other platforms where they can put a pixel, and it’s hard to understand how this is actually going to impact how those pixels are used and pixel activity.
Facebook says, “People who manage pages with large numbers of followers,” now the numbers of followers here haven’t been determined, “will need to be verified. Those who manage large pages that do not clear the process will no longer be able to post. This will make it harder for people to administer a page using a fake account.”
So what this actually means, no more having two accounts. If you’re a marketer, or if you’re a journalist, or if you’re someone who uses an account for personal reasons and an account for business reasons that won’t happen any longer under this particular change. What’s really unclear is we don’t know how this change is going to be implemented. We don’t know how people are going to be verified, we don’t know what the mechanism is for that. But it seems, and this is actually a really good thing, that Facebook wants to crack down on those fake accounts.
Lastly Facebook says, “You have all necessary rights and permissions and a lawful basis to disclose and use the hash data.” So this would be email data that you own, “In compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and industry guidelines. If you are using a Facebook identifier to create a custom audience you must have obtained the identifier directly from the data subject in compliance with these terms.”
This is all about if you are someone who uses an email list to upload into Facebook to create a custom audience, you are going to have to verify it to Facebook. Again the mechanism by which we’re going to be doing this is really unclear, it hasn’t been defined as far as I can tell. The other component to this, and this is quite interesting, is that Facebook potentially will be asking you or looking at whether your list is compliant in things like if someone has requested to be removed, that you actually remove them.
So this could impact campaigns like reengaging people who have unsubscribed from email. But that’s something that we can discuss when those changes actually take place.
All of these changes are just on one platform, that is just Facebook.
So over the coming weeks I’ll share with you what some of the other large platforms are doing to make sure they are GDPR ready, LinkedIn and Twitter most importantly. But ultimately these changes are about improving data privacy for the many, many billions of people around the globe who use all sorts of websites, apps and other digital experiences in their everyday lives.
Let’s be honest, anything that brings more transparency to online marketing and puts people at the centre of better marketing practice and behaviour in my books is a good thing.
Thank you so much for listening and if you liked what you heard please subscribe to my podcast and share it with your friends.