How to Avoid Spamming Your Customers

Friday, March 14, 2014

Don't be a spammer

Spam is bad. Not only is it bad, in many jurisdictions, it’s actually illegal to send unsolicited mass emails flogging a product or service. And, though most of us associate spam with discounts on Viagra, dodgy business deals and dethroned princes looking to park millions in your bank account, this isn’t always the case.

In fact, you may be a spammer and not even know it.

Yes, your perfectly legitimate business correspondence offering customers a significant discount or exclusive offer could be spam under Australia’s Spam Act, which defines spam as “unsolicited commercial electronic messaging” and the definition extends to SMS, instant messaging and mobile phone messaging, as well as email.

Since the Spam Act doesn’t make mention of only bulk messages constituting spam, technically, even a single message can constitute spam, so it’s a fine line between sending a legitimate business-related email and being a spammer.

There are, however, a few measures you can take to avoid your emails being tossed or just automatically filtered into the Junk Mail box, and the first (and most important) is to simply not send messages to people who have not consented to receiving them.

Only ever communicate with people who have willingly and knowingly given you their contact details.

Buying lists or simply emailing people unsolicited would be considered spammish behaviour.

The rule (no, in fact the law) is just don’t do it. 


Practice e-mail etiquette

That said, you must also treat carefully the contact details of those who have willingly handed them over to you.

Bombarding customers with too many emails is almost guaranteed to get your message deleted or, worse still, lead to them hitting the dreaded unsubscribe button.

Here are three basic rules to follow to make sure your customers not only read the content you have sent, but respond to it as well.

1. Use Double Opt-In: Require your customers to click on a confirmation link when they sign up for your mailing list. This ensures that nobody is getting your emails involuntarily, and it keeps your mailing list full of interested prospective and current customers.

2. Be Personal: Personalize your emails by using the name of your customer, mentioning their past purchases, or suggesting products just for them. People are more likely to open emails that aren’t generated for a general audience, and are appreciative of the personal touch.

3. Provide compelling content: While you certainly should include a call to action or two, don’t bother sending e-mails that only advertise your products or services. Provide your customers with information that is useful and that makes them want to click over to your website. Sending ad after ad to your customer’s e-mail box will inevitably result in only one of three actions: a) your email will be delete; b) it will be flagged for automatic delivery to the spam folder or, worst of all, the user will unsubscribe from your mailing list.


Don’t abuse social media

We’ve mentioned that spam needn’t only take place via email, but the latest avenue for spammers are the myriad social media platforms.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, provide companies with a unique way to interact personally and directly with their customers but too many companies seem to believe that gives them free reign to write whatever they want, whenever they want as many times as they want.

Of course, just as this behaviour is unacceptable via email, it is equally off putting on social media.   
If you want to gain business from your social media channels, advertising should be kept to the minimum because, don’t forget, it appears on a user’s personal walls and in their personal newsfeeds. Annoy them too much and they can report you in a single click, delete you as easily or unsubscribe, which means you lose them forever, which is detrimental.

The majority of your tweets/shares/pins should be content and information that adds value to your followers’ lives or business and adds to the community at large.

Although this approach is more indirect and takes more thought and effort, the traffic and conversion opportunities are still immense.

It’s not difficult to avoid spamming your customers. You need only be mindful of the various laws - and your customers’ inboxes and newsfeeds. Yes, you can still market your products and services, but do so discretely without being annoying or obtrusive and be sure to offer lots of value in every correspondence. Remember, content is king.