If you have ever had your company’s emails blocked by an ISP, then you know just how hard it is to recover and restore your email marketing campaign. As a matter of fact, not sending out emails that are CAN-SPAM compliant has crippled some businesses to the point that they fold and are no longer in operation!
Whether you have an email marketing campaign now or are thinking of starting one in the future, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules of emailing. When I speak to business owners about CAN-SPAM compliance, a lot of them are shocked to find out that there are actually regulations out there that tell companies what they can and cannot send out to people.
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What is CAN-SPAM and What do I Need to Know?
The CAN-SPAM Act was first introduced in 2003, and then revised again in 2008. While CAN-SPAM regulations don’t apply to all types of emails, it does apply to certain types of emails. According to the Act, there are two different types:
- Transactional/Relationship emails
- Commercial Emails
Commercial emails are what CAN-SPAM laws concern themselves with. Commercial emails can be broadly defined as being an email that is some sort of promotion, advertisement, or that contains content from a business or company’s website.
MAKE NOTE: Remember that this is a BROAD definition. Emails that are sent in the name of your business, but may be of a non-business related issue, can still be construed as “commercial emails” and are subject to CAN-SPAM regulations.
To stay on the safe side, make sure that all emails being sent that are even remotely tied to your business are legally compliant.
IMPORTANT: In 2008, the revisions to the CAN-SPAM Act specified that all emails from your business that are forwarded to other people may still be subject to CAN-SPAM requirements.
So How Do I Make My Emails CAN-SPAM Compliant?
There are a number of things that you can do to ensure that your emails are meeting regulations. We’ll start from the first and most important point:
- Your goal is to make it clear that your emails are a form of solicitation (you may only be exempt of this when you have the permission or consent from each individual on that email list to send them emails, i.e. they signed up to receive a monthly newsletter)
- You need to provide subscribers a way to “opt out” from receiving any further emails from your company. With that being said, when someone chooses to “opt out”, you have to remove them from that list permanently within 10 days of the request. You also cannot add that person back at a later date. Don’t charge anyone to opt out of your emails, and keep the opt-out process as straight forward as possible (i.e. “click ‘yes’ to opt out” on a web page or “click this link” in an email message)
- You need to provide a physical address. Every single email that is related to your business must have your physical address attached to it. If you have several locations, include your head office address.
- Always include a detailed email header. The header of your email should be so clear that anyone receiving the email is able to tell who is sending it, and what it’s about. Don’t try to get wise and use tricky or unclear wording to fool people into opening your email, either; if the header doesn’t represent the content of the email, then you may find yourself blocked for good.
- You’re legally responsible for any emails sent out on your behalf. This means that an email that an affiliate or a marketing company is sending out on your behalf must meet CAN-SPAM standards. Otherwise, YOU are the one who stands to be penalized.
The message that CAN-SPAM is trying to get across is simple: Be who you say you are! Don’t try to fool anyone into opening your emails, and allow people an easy exit from receiving future emails from your company.
If e-mail marketing is something you are interested in but are having trouble getting started, contact us today to schedule your free marketing analysis!