Did you know that as a marketer in South Africa or in other parts of the world, it is your duty to abide by anti-spam laws? The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002 (ECTA) established South Africa's first spam regulation, which was strengthened by the Consumer Protection Act, 2008 (CPA) and the recently implemented Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (POPIA). In today's legal world, ignoring anti-spam laws could have major consequences for your business.
Let’s take a closer look at what your opt-out (unsubscription) process should include to ensure you remain on the right side of the law.
Things you need to incorporate in your email opt-out process
1. Every email must have a simple opt-out option
The ability to unsubscribe from your emails must be easy for your subscribers. In every email you send, you must provide your subscribers with this option. A link to unsubscribe can be included at the bottom of the email. Below is an example of an opt-out option.
You should always provide an unsubscribe link in your emails, but you can additionally offer alternative ways of unsubscribing.
An example of alternative opportunities to unsubscribe could look like the below:
- Reply to sender: In order to unsubscribe, the subscriber must reply to the same commercial email they received.
- Send a request to a specified email address: To make such a request, the subscriber must send an email to the address provided.
Here is an example of an email footer that gives users clear instructions on how to unsubscribe.
Image Source: 22Seven
You might wonder if this applies to you if your country hasn’t adopted anti-spam laws. Yes, it does. This is applicable to both countries that have anti-spam laws in place and countries that do not yet have any. Citizens in countries without anti-spam laws may depend on laws addressing privacy policies and personal data protection if the unsubscription procedure is not handled properly in their countries.
2. Acknowledge opt-out requests immediately
You have 10 business days to honour requests made to be removed from your subscriptions lists.You are not permitted to charge for this service, request any personal data, or sell the customer's contact information to another business. A benefit of having an email service provider is that the email platform will handle this process for you.
Broken links and nonfunctional unsubscribe processes are quite common and they can carry detrimental consequences to your brand. It’s always a good idea to make use of automatic subscribe procedures and to test that these work.
Lastly keep in mind that any unsubscribe requests received through other channels or in alternative unsubscribe methods must also always be processed. These requests can include phone calls or emails sent to addresses other than the ones you’ve listed in the footer of your emails.
3. You can redirect subscribers to an unsubscribe form and page
You can quickly and easily design your forms with Mail Blaze. Our drag and drop editor makes designing your forms a breeze. One of these forms is an unsubscribe form. When a subscriber wants to unsubscribe from your email list, they will be directed to this form.
The subscriber will be taken to the unsubscribe page after completing the unsubscribe form, where they will be notified that they have been removed from your mailing list successfully.
Be sure to customise these forms and pages to ensure brand consistency and a positive final impression for your business. You can customise the unsubscribe form, the unsubscribe page (confirming someone has unsubscribed) as well as an unsubscribe email (if you’ve selected double opt-out).
If a subscriber wants to unsubscribe from your mailing list, they can do so by filling in this form. Below is an example.
The unsubscribe Page is the page a subscriber will see after submitting the unsubscribe form. You can customise the messaging on this page to ensure the subscriber knows what is happening next (in the case of double opt-out that they will receive an email to confirm they want to unsubscribe) or if you use single opt-out you can use this page to say you’re sorry to see them go.
The unsubscribe email gets sent to your subscriber if you are using a list set to double opt-out. This email will contain a verification link to ask the subscriber to confirm that they want to be removed from your list. This is useful as some subscribers might accidentally click on your unsubscribe link and gives the subscriber a chance to really consider whether they want to be removed or not.
We’re sure that you can now see that there are a lot of considerations to make when putting an opt-out procedure in place and responding to unsubscribe requests.
Use caution and show respect for your email subscribers if you employ another company to maintain your email list because you are still liable if the company violates any of these regulations.
Remember: make it as simple as you can for your subscribers to cancel their subscriptions.