The Australian Communications and Media Authority Spam Act
The Australian Communications and Media Authority have been enforcing the Spam Act over the past year on major companies such as McDonald’s.
By: Next Marketing
Jo Macdermott, Owner and Senior Marketing Consultant from Next Marketing shares her insights on the Spam Act.
The pitfalls of ‘refer a friend’ marketing have been exposed in a recent incident involving McDonald’s, in which promotional emails sent by the fast-food chain were found to be contravening the Spam Act (http://www.acma.gov.au/
“It was found by ACMA that referred friends were not given the opportunity to consent to receiving information, and that emails were sent without an unsubscribe button, leaving recipients with no way to opt out of the McDonald’s emails.” Macdermott said.
The Spam Act states that Promotional emails sent by a business must always first obtain the consent of the recipient. ”
“As a solo business owner, your marketing material is probably not disseminated on quite the same scale as a company like McDonald’s, but it’s still essential to think about the legal implications, particularly when it comes to email marketing.” Macdermott said.
“‘Refer a friend’ marketing is slightly different to friend-to-friend marketing. The latter occurs every day on social media platforms, where people share content and information with friends and across networks. Forwarding an email newsletter is also a form of friend-to-friend marketing.” Macdermott said.
“‘Refer a friend’ email marketing (aka ‘friend get friend’ or ‘member get member’ marketing) is where a website visitor or subscriber provides a business with contact details of a friend, to whom the business then directly sends marketing material. It’s this technique that needs to be approached with extreme caution. “Macdermott said.
According to the Spam Act, promotional emails sent by a business must always first obtain the consent of the recipient, and they must provide an unsubscribe function.
“No matter what your email marketing campaign, proof of consent to receive the email in the first place is essential.” Macdermott said.
“In ‘friend get friend’ marketing campaigns, some businesses attempt to obtain consent by including something in their terms and conditions along the lines of: By providing email addresses of your friends, you agree that you have gained their consent to receive promotional material. But this still doesn’t prove consent has been granted.” Macdermott said.
“Another method used by some businesses is to email the referred friend an “opt-in” or confirmation email (essentially an email requesting their permission to send them promotional material). However, ACMA does not support this as complying with the Spam Act either, as even an “opt-in” email is considered promotion.” Macdermott said.
“ ACMA admits the Spam Act doesn’t include hard-and-fast rules on ‘friend get friend’ marketing, and advises to seek legal advice when using it. What ACMA does emphasise is that whatever email marketing you engage in – that you first consider how it will affect your business’s reputation.”
“Whenever a business sends messages to someone not expecting it, they put their reputation at risk. You may be able to mitigate that risk, but you need to weigh up whether it’s worth it,” says the editor of ACMA’s blog.
“The only way to avoid contravening the Spam Act is to have clear records proving consent for every email that your customers receive. If in doubt about your own email marketing campaign, seek legal advice” Macdermott said.
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