With today online tools like the amazing Mailchimp, my personal favourite, email campaigns are easy to set up and free to run for small businesses. For these very reasons, they have become very popular and unsolicited email became just as appetising as canned ham. So much so that legislation had to be passed to restrict its use –and abuse.
Know the rulesWhether you are already running email campaigns or planning to do so, it is essential that you know the rules that apply to you. Here are the main rules in New Zealand:
A commercial PurposeThe Act only applies to electronic communications of a commercial nature. . Note that sms and fax communications are included in the legislation. An email that does not pertain to marketing or promote goods or services does not qualify as spam.
ConsentYou are not allowed to send email without the recipient's consent. Although verbal consent qualifies, the DIA recommends that you keep a record of consent (although they don't go as far as saying you should make voice recordings, which would be a bit weird). Someone giving you your business card qualifies in some conditions (i.e. the cards were exchanged as the parties intended to do business with each other, but not if the card was picked up from a stack or given for personal purposes)
IdentificationYour business must be clearly identified and means of contact evident.
Don't become an accidental spammer!You are just as liable under the Act if your address is used for spamming purposes by a third party. In short: make sure all your passwords are secure so a hacker can't use your good name to sell controversial merchandise. It wouldn't look good to your customers either if they thought you had suddenly branched into penis enlargements.
Further ReadingArticle: Snail Mail or Email?
Full text of the law
Useful Q&A from the Department of Internal affairs