Marketing through electronic commercial messages

A commercial electronic message is any electronic message (such as email, SMS, MMS or instant message) that offers, advertises or promotes a business, good or service.

This could be:

  • a regular email newsletter from your business
  • texting your customers to promote a sale
  • sending a digital coupon to your loyal customers for a discount

Rules when sending electronic commercial messages

There are rules when sending electronic commercial messages to your customers. Before sending your messages, you must make sure that you:

  • have permission from your customers to send them commercial electronic messages
  • include a way for your customers to unsubscribe or opt-out

If you don't follow these rules, you'll be in breach of the Spam Act 2003. Your customers will be able to report you to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Also, if your customers haven’t given you permission to send email messages to them, they’re more likely to mark your emails as spam. If lots of people do this, email systems can block your emails and they won’t reach your customers.

Check out ACMA’s spam rules to find out more.

Get customer consent (permission)

To send electronic commercial messages to your customers you must have their consent to send them the messages. You also need to keep records when you get their permission. Read more about consent on the ACMA website.

Provide a way to unsubscribe

Make sure you provide a way for people to unsubscribe from your messages. This is known as an unsubscribe facility. Here are some things to remember about providing an unsubscribe facility.

  • Your unsubscribe instructions should be clear and easy to see.
  • If your recipient unsubscribes, you should unsubscribe them within 5 working days.
  • Unsubscribing should be low cost or free.
  • Your recipient should be able to unsubscribe up to 30 days after they receive your original message.
  • If you’ve used a third party to send out the email for you, a recipient’s request to unsubscribe should come to you and not the third party.

Examples of unsubscribe options

Here are some examples of how you might include wording to unsubscribe:

  • Email — Unsubscribe: if you no longer want to receive messages from us, simply reply to this email with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
  • Email — If you no longer want to receive these messages, please click "unsubscribe".
  • SMS — Unsub: reply NO.

Or provide a link to a website where the person can easily click a button to remove themselves from a mailing list.

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