Or Email and your Business website
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen businesses make in trying to gather people to their website, Facebook page or blog is to send out emails or other electronic communications to people who haven’t given their explicit permission to you.
It is tempting to harvest email addresses directly from the web, or add that business acquaintance in on your newsletter list.
It will however do you and your business brand a great deal of damage and could end up costing you a a large chunk of money when you are reported to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for breaching the Spam Act.
Email has become the same as the telephone, ubiquitous and seen as a personal space. In the same way telemarketers became to be seen as a nuisance, something to be avoided and disdained, email spam has come to mean the same thing. There are only so many Viagra, pharmaceutical, SEO, pet store, adventure land or business logo mat services emails you can receive in one day with out throwing your hands in the air and walking away from your machine.
This is the essence of the Australian Spam Act of 2003:-
“The Spam Act 2003 prohibits the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages—known as spam—with an Australian link. A message has an Australian link if it originates or was commissioned in Australia, or originates overseas but was sent to an address accessed in Australia.”
Pretty clear right ?
The few exemptions to this rule are
- government bodies
- registered charities
- registered political parties
- educational institutions (for messages sent to current and former students).
Now earlier today I received an email from Patrick asking me to consider the changes that Google made in April this year. I am including the email whole so we can have a good clear picture of what not to do and so I can show you the mistakes that were made in the communication.
By way of introduction, I’m Patrick from S******** P******, an Adelaide based digital solution company. The reason for this email is to let you know that in late April Google changed their search ranking rules to favor Mobile Friendly websites. In simple terms the Google change means that websites that is not built to display on a mobile device will be penalized.
The Google change acknowledges the persistent trend towards mobile! With over 60% of people in Australia now looking for information, search for services or buying products on their mobile device, businesses with websites that are not mobile ready will find it increasingly difficult to remain visible with potential customers.
To test your own website, please enter your domain into below mentioned links:
Of course we understand you may already have a team of designers and developers. However, if you are looking for a strong digital company to support your business we’d welcome the chance to discuss your needs on a call and how we might support you.
The Spam Act 2003 defines a commercial electronic message as:
- offers, advertises or promotes the supply of goods, services, land or business or investment opportunities
- advertises or promotes a supplier of goods, services, land or a provider of business or investment opportunities
- helps a person dishonestly obtain property, commercial advantage or other gain from another person.
The Act classifies an electronic message as ‘commercial’ by considering:
- the content of the message
- the way the message is presented
- any links, phone numbers or contact information in the message that leads to content with a commercial purpose—as these may also lead the message to be defined as ‘commercial’ in nature.
Pretty clear and quite tightly defined isn’t it.
Now lets look at the received email and what was wrong there. I’ll use point form to make it more concise.
- Patrick who ?
- An introduction explaining why I’m hearing from them
- How I ended up on their email list
- Company branding
- No ABN, ACN or link to a trading name
- contact phone number, Physical Address
- Unsubscribe link – How do I get off it
Most of those points above are obvious and even basic business communication 101. Who, What, Why. An email devoid of details, things that can be easily checked and verified scream SCAM! Especially an email that comes to your inbox with out permission.
Remember Permission is key to marketing to your Customer and clients. Permission from your contacts on your marketing list gives you a higher conversion rate, a higher success rate and means your message is getting through to people who want to hear it.
With out permission you might as well go and shout on a street corner in the middle of Brisbane at peak hour. You’d get the same level of visibility with the same consideration as Spam email.
The exception the Act gives to not having permission to send a commercial communication is called “Inferred consent and conspicuous publications.”
“Under the Spam Act, you can only infer consent through conspicuous publication if:
- the electronic address is published ‘conspicuously’—that is, it is accessible to the public, or a section of the public (for example, it appears on a website or in a telephone directory or brochure)
- the address is not accompanied by a statement that commercial messages are not wanted
- the subject matter of your message is directly related to the principal role or function of the recipient (electronic account-holder).”
Sounds like a way out right ? Not that easy I’m afraid. While many businesses openly advertise their email address for contact from potential customers most of those addresses start of with info@, contact@ or sales@ not hiringDigitalMarketingGuru@. Yes extreme example but I hope the point is taken.
A communication to some one under the inferred consent rule really does have to hit the mark when directed at customers, it has to be less scatter shot and more finely focused laser. This will not only give you a higher conversion rate on your email campaign by targeting people who may actually be interested in your message but stop your business coming off as a spammer and potentially receiving a fine from ACMA.