Responsible Email Marketing

Guidelines for the responsible use of Email in marketing:

Selection of Email addresses:

  • You MUST have a prior business relationship with the recipient, relating to the contents of the advertising email before you send them advertising email.
  • DO ask your customers to provide email addresses when communicating with them. At the same time ask them to indicate whether or not they are prepared to receive advertising and/or information messages at those addresses.
  • DO respect the wishes of those customers who provide addresses but ask not to receive marketing email messages.
  • DO keep records of documentation relating to the above “opt in” process.
  • NEVER purchase a list of email addresses.
  • NEVER send messages to addresses which were “harvested” from web sites.
  • If you have access to an email database which was collected for one business or product, NEVER use it for marketing another unrelated business or product. (Eg clients whose details were collected while involved in banking, should never be sent email advertising insurance).

Identification of the Sender:

  • Always provide full identification and contact details of the party sending the advertising emails.
  • Ensure that the “from” address is valid and will accept non-delivery reports (bounce messages).

Content and Size:

  • Limit the size of advertising messages. Large unsolicited messages are a cause of irritation to the recipient, even when you do have a business relationship with them. Typically messages should be kept under 300kB. Note that when a file or graphic is attached to an email, it is encoded which increases its size, so attachments should be smaller than this.
  • If you wish to include large items like graphics or price-lists in your messages, rather host these on a web site and just put hyperlinks in the message referring to the external material. If the documents are very large, indicate in the message how large they are so that people can chose not to download them if they are on a slow or expensive link.

Handling of Responses:

  • Mail returned to the “From” address listed in the message must be accepted and processed carefully.
  • Ensure (ie run tests and verify) that your own anti-spam filters (and those of your upstream service provider) do not filter out responses and bounce messages to your advertising messages.
  • Invalid addresses which generate “bounce” messages should be removed immediately from the database. Ideally this should be done automatically by software.
  • Responses should also vetted by a human operator:
    • Any response which indicates that the message caused offence to the recipient should result in that email address being removed from the database.
    • Any response which requests information as provided for in the ECT ACT should be dealt with in a responsible manner. Information supplied back to the correspondent should be correct.
    • Every response which requests a follow-up with respect to the service or product advertised should be afforded a personal reply.
  • Ensure that when addresses are removed from the list, that they are removed from all copies of the list.
  • Do not configure an “auto-responder” on the mailbox to which returned messages are delivered. Sending an automated response in reply to every bounce message or reply would itself be a form of spamming.