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Email Marketing Legal Issue

Spamming is a huge problem with emails; a ‘spam’ email is an unsolicited commercial email that is sent without the person giving permission. So is email marketing to your address list spamming? The simple answer is no; if someone has agreed to receive emails from you then providing you follow legal guidelines it is not the same as spamming.

Unsolicited Messages

Is someone has not given you their email address directly, and you have not got it from a verified list; it is against the law to send them commercial messages. Un-requested (Unsolicited) messages are spam, and you must not send them; even if you think the person would be interested in the contents.

The only possible exception is if you have a long standing business relationship; if for example, the customer purchases from you every month for a year. However, the rules and guidance on this exception are not very clear.

If you consider sending messages under this rule, you need to carefully weigh up each business relationship on its own individual merits; if you even suspect that they may not want to see it then it is best not to send.

Opting-out

Even though someone has given you their email address, they still have the right to opt-out and prevent any further emails. You must make it easy for people to remove their name from your list, and you need to include easy instructions on how to do so. If they choose to remove themselves you must remove their address and not send any further mails.

Frequency

If you sign people to your email list, you must give them an accurate idea of how many emails they will get. You don’t have to say “one email every 18 days”, but you should differentiate between regular (Approx daily to weekly), occasional (Approx fortnightly to monthly), and rare (Approx less than once a month) communication to prevent irritating recipients. If you say ‘occasional emails’ and then send 3 a day, people will get fed up and remove their addresses very quickly, but if you say one a day then send one a month people may forget about you; so be realistic with what you plan to send.

Sending

When you send your emails you MUST make sure that each person only sees their email address. This may mean sending each email separately, or using the ‘BCC’ function in your email program/facility. BCC hides the email addresses that each email is being sent to, this way people cannot steal other peoples addresses by reading it. Do not use the CC function, otherwise everyone will see all the email addresses.

Privacy

You must not give away anybody’ s email addresses to other companies or people. You can ask for permission to pass on their details to other reputable companies (I.e.: Companies that you believe are trustworthy and of interest to the customer only), but most people will not want to do this. You should make sure that your customers are aware that you respect their privacy; you should state “We do not give your details to anybody else.” As long as you actually do this, it will help to build trust in your business by showing you are honest and respect their privacy.

Facts

Every email that you send must make it clear who you are, and give the recipients genuine contact details to respond through. You should have a regularly checked contact email at the very minimum, and preferably a contact telephone number and mailing address. If you include details of a special offer, you must include details of any terms or conditions that apply. e.g. If the offer is only valid on weekdays you must state this.

NetLink connect with some online users with a valid permission based mailing system.