Australia’s Virgin Blue Airlines learned the high cost for sending spam this weekend. Australia’s communications watchdog noted that the airline breached the law by sending emails to users that wanted to unsubscribe.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) started their investigation after several complaints were received about Virgin Blue Airlines’ marketing practices. The company continued to send email messages to members of the list after they repeatedly requested to be removed from the list. The practice was in direct violation of the SpamAct.
Under the Australian SpamAct companies have five days to stop sending commercial email offers after an unsubscribe request. Virgin Blue was under investigation for 18 months. The Australian Communications and Media Authority found that in a two month period, Virgin Blue sent more than 10,000 emails to people who requested to be taken off of their mailing list.
Once the Authority released their findings, Virgin Blue agreed to pay $110,000 for contrition and pledged to drastically change their email marketing practices. They appointed a third party company to assess their process, recommend changes, train personnel and handle a complaints-handling process.
Following the announcement Virgin Blue stock dropped to 43.5, underscoring the importance of a quality email marketing system in public confidence.
While Virgin Blue’s problems reportedly stemmed from a problem with its email marketing system, their case is an important reminder for email marketers everywhere. Here are some key points to keep in mind when you’re creating and sending out your email marketing messages.
Invest in a quality email marketing system.
Problems with Virgin’s unsubscribe link cost them $110,000 – you can avoid this same fate by going with a great email marketing program, like Boomerang. Email marketing automation only works if it can be relied upon. You can’t underestimate the importance of having a qualified team of professionals monitoring your email marketing and ensuring that the links do what they should.
Test your system yourself.
Even with a quality email marketing system, you’ll want to ensure that it’s working correctly yourself. Add a few company email addresses to your email marketing list so you see exactly what your recipients are receiving – unsubscribe links and all. This will also allow you to review the content and the template to be sure your recipients are having the right type of experience.
Watch out for spam and unwanted emails.
Although Virgin Blue had problems with their unsubscribe links, their case underscores the importance of understanding your audiences needs and avoiding spam. Make sure that you use double opt in confirmation on your email marketing list so your messages are welcome by your list members. Send regular emails with quality content to keep them engaged and provide resources that they’ll find valuable. You’ll get a lot less unsubscribe requests if you provide quality and timely content.
Virgin Blue’s case is a reminder that respecting the needs of your subscribers is at the core of successful email marketing.