21 Sep 7 Email Marketing Rules You Need To Know
Any business or organization in operation that uses email should become familiar with something called the CAN-SPAM Act. This little interesting piece of political muscle was introduced in 2003 by President George W. Bush. This act, initiated into law, was in effort to limit the amount of “junk mail” being delivered to email accounts.
When we at QuickSpark advise our clients on email marketing techniques and bring up the CAN-SPAM act we are generally faced with a rebuttal based off a common misconception.
“But CAN-SPAM is for bulk mailers who send out blindly…” (or something to that tone).
However in 2008 the act / law was updated by the Bureau of Consumer Protection and notes that CAN-SPAM doesn’t just apply to bulk mailers who operate blind email blasts. It covers every business, who emails about business, for business.
“It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.”
So if your business or organization intends to keep communication with your clients or attempts to gain new business through email messages (and every business / organization should be utilizing this marketing technique) you must follow a few simple, but specific rules.
What are the penalties for non-compliance of the CAN-SPAM Act?
For every single email message that violates the CAN-SPAM Act the FTC has the ability to fine you upwards of $16,000. Lets do the math: even 100 email messages that violate the rules can generate a fine of $1,600,000. That can and will kill an operation.
So here are the 7 rules you must follow to ensure full compliance when sending out emails:
- Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
- Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
- Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
- Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.
Good judgment when creating your emails campaigns is always the way to go. You can always check the CAN-SPAM Act – Full Document to ensure your on the straight and narrow. PRO TIP: enlist the help of an email marketing service to not only ensure compliance but also help with your overall email delivery.