The Spam Act of 2003 was passed by the Australian Parliament in 2003 to regulate commercial email and other types of commercial electronic messaging for marketing purposes.  The Act restricts email spam and some types of telephone spam, as well as email address harvesting in Australia for commercial solicitation.

Under the Spam Act, it is illegal for Australian businesses to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages that have an Australian “link”, and messages that originate overseas that have been sent to an address accessed in Australia. 

Sending bulk email

 Your Responsibilities Under Australian Law

The Australian Spam Act of 2003 states there are three requirements you must adhere to before sending bulk emails:

  1. Your recipients must give their consent to receive your emails.
  2. Your business name and contact details must be clearly identified.
  3. Your email must contain a working unsubscribe link.

When it comes to B2C marketing, email marketing platforms like MailChimp and Hubspot will force you to comply with requirement 2 and 3, enforce a “non general email” policy when importing contact lists, and will shut down your account should your unsubscribes and complaints go too high.

However, when B2B marketing the spam laws are not entirely clear, because they indicate a conflict between what is allowed and what is not allowed. For instance, the laws read as though researching and supplying business data for commercial gain is OK. But using that data for email delivery services or sending out unsolicited email campaigns is not. So as an Australian business, where do you stand?

You are probably fine to send to those email addresses found on published websites and social media pages, as it could be argued that the person clearly does not mind receiving emails from other companies. Afterall, they have advertised their email address on a public website. And, for the most part, much of the data sold in bulk email lists is probably found in this way. However, not knowing exactly where the contact data was acquired, can put you at risk of breaking Australian Spam Laws, and should your activity be reported, you will not be able to blame the company you acquired the list from, to escape penalty should officials decide to make you an example. 

Always identify yourself

The Australian Spam Act states that you must clearly identify yourself when sending out bulk email campaigns. If you were sending them a letter in the post, you would always include your own contact details, right? Consider the same courtesy for those receiving your electronic mail. At a minimum, make sure you clearly state who you are and where you are from to comply with this legislation.

Master Rule #2: You must always clearly identify your business 

According to the Spam Act, you must provide:

  • Your legal business name
  • Your ABN or ACN
  • Your contact details, including your physical address, website, phone and email address.

We recommend you put this information into the footer of your email template, to be sure it is never forgotten.

Master Rule #3: Unsubscribes must be actioned within five working days.

Unsubsribe for email

We also recommend in the bottom section of your email you offer an Unsubscribe Link. Unsubscribe is the most important aspect of email marketing compliance. It is required by law to be clearly visible, easy to use, and the request actioned within five working days.  Most email marketing platforms offer this as a default and automatic process as part of their list management.

Other Information

If you are looking for more complete and up to date information on Australian spamming laws, you should review the Australian Communications and Media Authority website, which gives clear and detailed guidance on interpreting the Spam Act of 2003.

However, even if you make sure your contacts have given their permission to use their email address, you have clearly identified yourself, and you have included an unsubscribe link in your email content, you are still only halfway to sending out a 100% legal email marketing campaign. 

As you can see, Email Marketing within Australian Spam Laws is a big topic that has broad exemptions to the rules. Over 80% of legal action taken under the Spam Act relates to list sourcing, contact privacy regulations, and email marketing permissions, which is covered in the next blog in this series – How to know if your Marketing List is Legal

Have any questions or need a hand? Get in contact with us today and one of our email marketing consultants will get in touch.

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