20 April, 2015
01:54 PM


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Let sleeping subscribers lie

By Editor


With winter fast approaching, you’re probably considering the best way to keep your customers responsive to your e-marketing. Some customers may want to ‘hibernate’—that is, opt out of your e marketing, either temporarily or permanently. And although it may not be immediately obvious, it actually makes good business sense to help them go.

Help them go—are you crazy?

Under the Spam Act 2003, you must include an opt-out or unsubscribe facility in all your e-marketing messages. Providing a simple opt-out option actually benefits your business by allowing you to focus on people who really want to hear from you. Enabling customers to easily opt out will also increase the odds of them choosing to buy from you again in the future. It’s important to remember that customers will pay just as much attention to how you say goodbye as to how you say hello.

Making opting out difficult will almost certainly have a detrimental effect on your reputation. At the ACMA, we often hear stories from frustrated consumers about opt-outs that haven’t gone to plan. It’s one of the most common sources of complaint for us and one that irritates consumers the most.

Alright, you’ve convinced me—what’s next?

When helping your customers to opt out, it’s important to:

  • Make sure the opt-out is working—conduct regular checks by signing up to receive your own e marketing messages and then opting out. Rest assured that if you have any difficulties, so will your now cranky customers. 
  • Ensure the opt-out process is simple—a cumbersome system is likely to cause frustration and generate complaints.
  • Remove customers from your marketing list within five working days of their opt-out request.

Remember, opting out might only be temporary. By playing it cool and doing it well, you might just re engage some customers when they emerge from hibernation.

Subscribe to the ACMA's Successful's about reputation e-bulletin for anti-spam advice, updates and tips for e-marketers, straight to your inbox.

Add your comments
  • Daniel

    18/03/2016 3:16:12 PM

    I have recently registered a domain name and my information is now on the whois lookup. since this, i have received more spam than ever, all of which offer an unsubscribe button. Is there any laws against these spammers singing you up without your permission? Also I have heard that using the unsubscribe feature in their emails actually notifies them you are an active email address, meaning they will sell it at a premium to other spammers. The system is ineffective in this case. 
    • In reply to Daniel

      The ACMA

      22/03/2016 1:38:01 PM

      Hi Daniel, if you are receiving commercial electronic messages that you have not consented to then you can lodge a complaint with the ACMA using its online complaint form. The ACMA will then assess your complaint based on the information provided. Note that while there are provisions in the Spam Act 2003 that specify how a business may rely on inferred consent to send commercial electronic messages, certain criteria must be met; inferred consent is dependent on the nature of the message being sent as well as how it may relate to you specifically.
      • In reply to The ACMA


        23/03/2016 11:15:10 AM

        Where is this complaint form? Your website is near impossible to navigate
        • In reply to Jason

          The ACMA

          31/03/2016 11:04:30 AM

          Hi Jason, sorry you’re having trouble finding the right info you need on our website. And thanks for the feedback!
          You can forward email or SMS spam directly to the ACMA—check out this page for the details 
          You can also report spam using our online form at 
  • Gil

    29/09/2016 5:03:26 PM

    We have a data base of people who opted in to receive messages when they entered a competition with a major media company for which we provided the prize. We emailed these people two or three times afterwards but have not done so for a couple of years. We'd like to advise them of a new product we now distribute but also use the opportunity to clean out any subscribers not interested,as it costs us money to hold them in the system. Assuming we identify who we are, and have a functioning unsubscribe, can we do this after such a long break? We would have a disclaimer saying that they are on our list because they entered into a competition with (the media company), and the unsubscribe, but some or many may not remember the competition, so I'm concerned about complaints. 
  • Felicia

    14/03/2017 12:13:09 PM

    How can I make a complaint about spam emails? I've unsubscribed but they keep sending me emails!
    • In reply to Felicia

      The ACMA

      14/03/2017 12:20:34 PM

      Hi Felicia, you can report spam emails to the ACMA by forwarding them to
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