If you’re a business looking to expand in the digital marketing space, the lure of a purchased list as a source of potential customers may be too great to ignore. But before you use one, let’s look at the risks.
Purchased lists are email contact lists that are sold by individuals and companies called List Brokers. Whilst this practice is not illegal, the use of such list(s) does actually violate the SPAM Act 2003 because the contacts on the purchased list did not grant your business explicit permission to solicit them via email.
Sending unsolicited emails not only has the potential of wreaking havoc on your reputation, you’ll almost certainly be communicating to people who don’t even know you or your business. Using a purchased list may also mean you’re not complying with the consent provisions of the SPAM Act 2003.
Successful e-marketing is about reputation. It is about building relationships with your customers who have specifically expressed an interest in your business. This may occur through ‘express consent’, which is when a person directly says they want to receive your messages or ‘inferred consent’ which can occur when there is a strong existing business relationship and a person has a reasonable expectation of receiving your messages.
Purchased lists are generally compiled from people agreeing to receive marketing emails from ‘Company A Pty Ltd’—but this doesn’t mean they want to receive messages from you. It’s also possible that the list has been compiled from publicly listed addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Relying on this practice for consent can be risky.
So before you spend your hard-earned cash on a purchased list for e-marketing, ask yourself
- Where did the information on the list come from?
- Can I show that I have consent if required?
- What can the list provider tell me about how they got the addresses?
- Is it likely the person would expect to receive this message?
- Will the person know who I am and why they are receiving the message?
- Could sending the message damage my reputation?
Under the Spam Act it’s up to the sender to prove that consent exists. It is illegal for unsolicited commercial electronic messages to be sent, or cause to be sent. The legislation sets out penalties of up to $1.1 million a day for repeat corporate offenders.
For more information regarding consent check out ACMA’s Fact Sheet – Understanding Consent
If you found this interesting you might also like to read “The Copyright Crime” – explaining the ramifications of using a copyrighted image.