What is the Spam Act and how does it affect real estate agents?

Knowledge of the Spam Act is important for real estate marketers.

Email and SMS have become essential tools for real estate marketing, but how much do you know about the laws that govern these types of communication?

Electronic messages are governed by the Spam Act 2003, which prohibits the sending of unsolicited ‘commercial electronic messages’ including email, SMS, MMS, and instant messaging. Breaching the Act could prove costly, with repeat offenders potentially facing penalties of up to $1.1 million per day.

Here are three things you should know about electronic marketing under the Spam Act:

1. You need consent.

As per the Spam Act, you always need a person’s consent before you can send them commercial electronic messages (such as email or SMS). You will need either express consent or inferred consent.

Express consent is when a person actively and deliberately gives consent to receive your commercial messages – e.g. by filling out a subscribe form on your website, or by agreeing face-to-face. Inferred consent comes about either through a strong existing business relationship or through a conspicuously-published work-related electronic address – but only if what you’re promoting relates strongly to the recipient’s role or line of business.

It is inferred consent that allows us to send real-estate-related emails to agents who have their email addresses displayed on the web. Since your prospects, however, likely do not work in real estate, you may need to rely mostly on express consent.

2. Allow unsubscribes.

All commercial electronic messages must include unsubscribe instructions, described by the Spam Act as “a statement to the effect that the recipient may use an electronic address set out in the message to send an unsubscribe message” to the sender.

If you use CRM software or an email marketing service, chances are you can insert a link that allows recipients to unsubscribe automatically.

3. Beware of ‘grey areas’.

Some situations that you may assume fall under ‘inferred consent’ may in fact be prohibited by the Spam Act. For example, do you add email addresses from enquiries to your emailing list? The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) writes that “Generally, you cannot add a person to a mailing list on the basis of a one-off enquiry. You need to determine whether they have provided consent to receive your [commercial electronic messages].”

Reading up on the Spam Act will help you to make informed decisions about what is and isn’t within the law. Click here to read the Spam Act or see the ACMA’s fact sheet for real estate agents.

Do you need help setting up your email or SMS campaigns? Call Peter on 0419 538 838 for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr.

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About Emily Murphy

Emily is a digital strategist, Internet Communications graduate, and raving fan of WordPress. She worked with Real Estate Tribe from early 2012 to late 2014.

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