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.