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Email marketing can be an excellent way to foster new customers’ interest in your eCommerce business and retain repeat customers. However, when you conduct most of your business operations online, you do not engage with people as you would in a physical store. Therefore, you need to do something to replicate in-person conversations to engage and satisfy your customers. A good eCommerce email marketing strategy can accomplish this task, allowing you to customise your marketing as you wish. However, you need to be careful not to alienate your customers with your email marketing campaigns or invite legal liability. Therefore, this article will go through four mistakes to avoid when email marketing for your eCommerce business.

1. Failing to Establish Consent

Firstly, your customers do not want to receive emails they did not ask for. If you send marketing emails to your customers without establishing consent, you can also breach spam law. In New Zealand, if you want to send commercial electronic messages, you need to make sure you have the permission of the recipient to do so. You can establish consent through:

  • getting it expressly;
  • inferring it from your relationship with the recipient; or
  • deeming it from an email address the recipient has publicly displayed.

For example, say that a customer purchases something from your eCommerce website. Just before they complete the transaction, you can include a tickbox asking if they would like to opt-in to receiving marketing emails from your eCommerce business. If they tick this box, this is express consent.

When you do not have express consent, you need to have enough of a business relationship with the recipient to infer their permission. A customer buying something from your business is not enough to establish consent. However, swapping business cards may be in the right situation.

If you do not go through this process, then you are sending unsolicited commercial electronic messages. These are illegal. Subsequently, you can receive fines of $200 for each of these emails, which can accumulate up to $500,000.

2. Lacking a Way to Unsubscribe

Email marketing mistakes often include not having an unsubscribe method. On top of consent, the law also requires that you provide an unsubscribe facility in every marketing email you send. Otherwise, they are unsolicited, and you can face legal fines.

It is up to you how you provide this unsubscribe method. No matter how you do this, you need to ensure that it is:

  • clear and conspicuous;
  • a straightforward process;
  • free;
  • functional for at least 30 days after sending; and
  • allows the recipient to unsubscribe using the same communication method as the original message.

Some businesses have this unsubscribe method as a reply option, where customers can write “UNSUBSCRIBE” or “STOP” in the subject or body of a reply email. Another option is to include an unsubscribe link at the end of each commercial email that sends customers to a preference centre. Here, they can unsubscribe from all of your marketing emails or just some of them.

Once a recipient asks to unsubscribe, you need to action this request within five working days of receiving it.

3. Sending Irrelevant Emails

According to what you think will interest new customers, you can personalise your email marketing strategy as you wish. Accordingly, a vital aspect of this is determining what is relevant to your customers and what will keep them engaged. You may package specific discounts with your emails or include information on top of product promotion to bring value to your marketing.

For instance, if you sell makeup products, you may include beauty tutorials in your marketing emails.

It is crucial that you do not send customers too many emails that are not relevant to their interests. Allow them to personalise what kinds of emails they want to receive, which they could do in your preference centre if you use that tool. On top of that, you can use your web analytics to help you discern what your customers are responding to. However, you need to make sure you tell your customers when you collect their personal data in this way.

4. Inadequate Security Measures

Email is one of the most common communication methods that can experience a data breach. You will likely be exchanging personal information in your email marketing, which can be a significant privacy risk for your business. Therefore, you need to take steps to secure your email servers and connections. New Zealand privacy law requires that you implement reasonable security methods against personal information:

  • loss;
  • misuse; or
  • disclosure.

If you do not invest in appropriate cybersecurity methods, you can face both reputational and legal consequences. Look into what works for your business, and update as necessary.

Key Takeaways

As one of the primary forms of engagement with your customers, email marketing can be beneficial for your eCommerce business. However, you need to comply with the law around sending these kinds of emails and keep this engagement relevant to your customers. If you would like more information or help with avoiding mistakes in your eCommerce email marketing, contact LegalVision’s eCommerce lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a commercial electronic message?

A commercial electronic message is an email or text you send your customers that promote a commercial interest, such as offering your goods or services. This definition includes promotional emails.

When does my email marketing classify as spam?

Your email marketing will classify as spam if your commercial electronic messages are unsolicited. You can avoid this classification if you have customer consent to send them commercial emails, include an option to unsubscribe, and identify who you are in your emails.

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