A pertinent question about building and maintain an email list today:

For anyone looking to follow your example of maintaining “an email list of all couples I meet at expos, fairs, open days, along with all who enquire with me” and sending them a weekly newsletter – are there any legal considerations or permission issues (opt in/opt out) we need to consider? Is it fine to just add any email address to a newsletter database or is there particular wording we need to use in sourcing those addresses for that purpose? Cheers.

So there’s three issues to address here:

  1. Consent to being added to a list
  2. Sending commercial messages versus sending spam
  3. Once you’ve identified that you’re within the law, are you sending an email worth sending

Consent to being added to a list

My summary of the spam act and consent in regard to celebrants is that you either

  1. seek consent via web form, contract, literally or verbally ask “can I email you”
  2. if you have an “existing business or other relationship” so if they have begun the inquiry process with you, or have booked you, then that counts.

Mailchimp, and many other email marketing systems offer a double opt-in function to ensure that everyone is doubly-opted-in. I don’t seek double-opt-in consent because I already seek consent in other forms.

Finally on consent, you can’t email to ask for consent, that’s spam. So unless you’ve sought consent or already have a relationship, then there’s no emailing.

Sending commercial messages versus sending spam

There are a few technical elements of an email that stop it becoming spam in the eyes of the law:

  1. You must identify yourself as the sender, and provide contact details, even your ABN, and contact details including mailing address. This is called sender identification.
  2. You must provide the facility for the receiver to unsubscribe. Preferably via an unsubscribe link. This is called a mandatory unsubscribe facility.
  3. The content of the email. This is a majorly subjective topic, but in regards to the law the subject content of the email shouldn’t be a surprise. If you’re a celebrant sending emails about diet shakes I would assume a judge would call that spam.

If you send spam you’re breaching the law, if you send commercial messages with consent, you’re ok.

Are you sending an email worth sending

This is a topic we’ll explore through the Celebrant Institute for the rest of time, but I’ll talk to it quickly here.

It’s highly likely that zero people are sitting at their computer today waiting for an unnecessary, unhelpful, unwanted email from you today.

So if you’re going to collect their email addresses, and spend the time constructing an email, let it matter. Offer help and advice they couldn’t get elsewhere. Bring your expert knowledge and insight direct to couples that you already have a relationship with, insight and knowledge that the wedding magazines and blogs don’t care about it because it’s not a styled shoot.

Sending this email is your chance to prove that you’re an asset. Don’t mess it up.

Bonus tip: How to collect the email addresses

When I’m at wedding fairs/expos/events I run the Mailchimp Subscribe app (available on iOS and Android) to collect emails and add them to a separate “Events” Mailchimp list. I also have a Zapier zap running that looks for new additions to that events list, and upon finding one it sends an email with my information pack so they get my fees and packages information, adds them to my main email list, and removes them from the events list.

So when I’m standing at the expo I tell them I can send an email with my fees and packages straight away and add them to mailing list. Saves printing and messing about and it works a charm. Everyone I meet at a fair gets my fees and information plus they’re added to a list and not a tree was harmed.