• Simon Remington

June 2014 - Why opt-in email lists are the only way to go

By Simon Remington

Every day I receive enquiries from businesses wanting to conduct email marketing campaigns to other businesses. Unfortunately there are very few opt-in email business lists in Australia and those which do exist, tend to be small and focused on firms of less than 50 staff.

Since 2003 and the introduction of the Spam Act, Australian email marketers have had to make sure they have permission before sending commercial emails. 'Expressed consent' (opt-in or permission based) email lists of consumers are rather common but for those who market to businesses, options are scarce.

'Inferred consent' is also referenced in the Spam Act as being acceptable where certain criteria is met. If you are promoting a training course and send an email to a HR Manager who 'conspicuously advertises' his or her email address on their company's website, you are OK to email them without permission.

You still need to make sure your email is relevant, not misleading, contain your full contact details including physical address and include a functional unsubscribe.

Sending an emails info@ email addresses is not acceptable under the 'Inferred consent' provision even when conspicuously advertised as info@ does not relate to a specific function within the organisation.

There are many business email lists on the market which use 'Inferred consent' however most of them include info@ emails and/or are unable to separate emails which are 'conspicuously advertised' from those which are not. In light of this, I choose not recommend such lists to my clients.

While most readers of this blog are direct marketers, you are also consumers and have varying amounts of disdain at being spammed yourselves. We've all received emails in the last few days from companies and thought, 'I never gave them my email address'.

Yes some people wouldn't have a problem as long as the email was relevant and an unsubscribe was included however there would be others who would be ropable and in some cases angry enough to make a complaint.

To me the term 'Spam' is certainly subjective and something which is in the eye of the beholder.

Email's twin appeal of speed and low cost is strong to direct marketers. They should however remember the damage which a non-compliant email send can do in terms of annoying your target market with unsolicited emails and the possibility of a large fine from Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) due to a breach of the Spam Act.

The option also exists to telemarket a list to obtain permission from businesses to send them emails from time to time. Once you have their expressed consent and provide an unsubcribe option in your email, you are all set.

Opt-in email lists are the only way to go because;

  • The list owner sends the email meaning the recipient (and their email server) can see that it has been sent from a trusted source.

  • You are demonstrating your commitment to conducting your campaign in a permission based manner by complying with the relevant legislation.

  • Peace of mind that your campaign won't land your company in hot water with ACMA.

  • Your time won't be spent responding to complaints from people who didn't appreciate receiving your email.

  • You don't run the risk of being added to spammer black lists.

Google 'business email lists' and you will be flooded with results but very few will be opt-in lists. Some are overseas based and claim to be opt-in. Logic says if very few companies in Australia have managed to compile a large opt-in email list of Australian businesses, how on earth has an overseas company accomplished this?

As with all things in life you get what you pay for. While $200 for an email list might be enticing, if that company can't give you a written guarantee their email list fully complies with the Spam Act the warning bells should be ringing loudly.

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