No, you can’t add me to your email marketing list

August 1, 2018

Authored by
Authored by

Tania Cavaiuolo

Adding me to your email marketing list because we swapped business cards is a no-no, even if you’re below the Spam Act threshold.

There’s no doubt a good email marketing list is a valuable tool in marketing today. Campaign Monitor spruiks an ROI for email marketing of $44 for every $1 spent. Impressive stuff.

Pitfalls of email marketing permissions

Each morning my inbox is overflowing with the ghosts of clicks and purchases past. Emails from hopeful companies attempting to lure me into a fresh transaction through flash sales, free shipping, pre-sale tickets and even the odd survey.

Email marketing works. I know this from developing campaigns for my own clients.

But there’s a certain type of email that lurks in my inbox that I think are counter-productive. And it comes from what I see as a worrying trend.

There’s an increasing chance that when I politely swap my business card at a networking event that I will magically end up on someone’s email marketing list hours later. I’m sure this doesn’t just happen to me.

Most of us have heard of the Spam Act but it technically only applies to organisations with a turnover of more than $3 million. The Act came into being with the rise of the internet of things and aims to protect consumers by requiring people to opt-in to receive emails. In short, you need permission and you risk hefty fines if you don’t have it.

Unfortunately unscrupulous people do exist. They caused me to switch how I display email addresses on a website. I either completely hide it (hyperlink only) or replace the @ with [at] or some variation including strategically placed spaces and dots. Why? To (hopefully) reduce the chance that a ‘bot’ will skim the website and sell my email address to someone who wants to offer me a Russian spouse.

But not everyone is unscrupulous. Sometimes we just need someone to tell us how we’re coming across.

Back to the business card. If you haven’t explicitly asked me if I’d like to receive updates from you as you request my card, then you don’t have permission to add me to your email marketing list. It doesn’t matter that it’s not illegal because your revenue is below the Spam Act threshold. If it feels like spam to me, it’s spam. And unfortunately, it will affect how I see you and your brand.

You can be certain if you do this that I will politely let you know but I’ll also unsubscribe and may even report you to the Spam gods if I think it might not be so innocent after all. Not because I don’t like you. Maybe not even because your wares are irrelevant. But because I simply don’t agree with that way of doing business.

In a world awash with offers, deals and brands constantly vying for our attention – be the option that respects the quality of personal exchanges, that takes time to consider how you can add genuine value to others, and who doesn’t take our current and future relationship for granted.

Do this, and I’ll listen. Because standing out for the right reasons is what effective marketing is all about.

"Tania respectfully moved us beyond our conventional approaches. Today our business is thriving again and our digital presence and content strategy has emerged to become a business strength."
Daryl Bateman
CEO, COTA Insurance
Meet the Founder

Tania Cavaiuolo is a Certified Practising Marketer and experienced communications practitioner with more than 15 years of experience across the for-profit, for-purpose and government sectors.


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