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How NOT to Send Spam Emails

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Last updated Feb 26, 2023

How NOT to Send Spam Emails


In 2020 in Australia spamming became a hot topic, with Woolworths being hit with $1 million fine from the Australian Communications and Media Authority for sending spam emails. Earlier in the year Optus were fined half a million dollars for sending spam emails and texts.*

When I encourage business owners to consider email marketing, one of the most frequent responses is “but I don’t want to send spam emails.”

My answer is: then don’t.

In this article, and in the webinar video, we cover the six ways in which you can run good email marketing without spamming.

  1. Prepare and maintain a good list
  2. Consider frequency
  3. Consider tone
  4. Focus on a good Welcome Email
  5. Consider an annual opt out email
  6. Know and adhere to the Australian Privacy Principles

The List

Your list is the most important email asset you have. Treat it with care. Pay attention to it. Don’t let it languish. Collect good information about the people on your list so that you can send relevant communication.

In the webinar video I give an example of cats and dogs. If you are a veterinary clinic or an animal rescue charity, collecting what type of pet the people on your list have is a good strategy. In this way you can send cat information to cat owners and dog information to dog owners. By doing so your emails will be relevant to the people who they are sent to. Over time, the more relevant your emails are, the more likely they are to get opened.

For many businesses, collecting people’s postcode or state or region is a good strategy for keeping emails relevant. For example, event organisers. If the event is being held in Melbourne, limiting the invitation to those people who live in Melbourne and not sending it to people who live in Sydney, keeps the communication relevant.


If there is one thing that defines spam it’s how often emails are sent. Clogging up a person’s inbox with daily or weekly emails is too much. Once a month is a good timeframe for many businesses. A regular newsletter disciplines you to send information not just when it suits you, which is usually when you have something to sell or promote. A regular email leads to a newsletter that has content of interest and benefit to the reader.

Intersperse the regular newsletter with the occassional single topic email, that is an email with a special offer, event or promotion. This occassional extra is well received as the regular monthly newsletter has built up trust and good communication.


If every email sent is about selling something, a person is unlikely to keep opening and reading the emails from that sender. As mentioned above, a regular informative newsletter displines the organisation to send valuable information to the reader. Consider sprinkling a surprise and delight email amongst the single topic sales ones. For example a happy birthday, Christmas greetings or just for the fun of it email.

Welcome Email

We consider the welcome email so important, we’ve devoted a whole article to it. Read our Welcome Email here.

Annual Opt Out Email

This email is a bit like the Welcome Email. New Year is a great time for it. Once a year invite your reader to unsubscribe. Not the usual 8point font, you can hardly read it, unsubscribe at the bottom of the email, but one that is front and centre. It may sound counter-intuitive to a good email marketing strategy, but an annual opt out enables you to keep your list clean and healthy. Usually less than 2% of people opt out. And it builds trust with the 98% who don’t.

Australian Privacy Principles

Emailing in Australia is guided by the Australian Privacy Principles. And as Woolies and Optus found out, there are fines to pay if not adhered to. Read our article on Australian Privacy Principles here.

Your own country, or in the case of Europe, your own continent, could have its own privacy legislation.

*Source and Further Reading

ABC News 2/7/20


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