Is Your Business CAN-SPAM Compliant?
The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act, passed in 2003, sets rules for using commercial email and lays out the penalties for violation of these rules - and the penalties are no joke. Each separate email found to be in violation of CAN-SPAM can carry a fine of over $40,000!
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s website, this law applies to “ ‘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.” Basically, any email that is soliciting customers must follow these rules. CAN-SPAM does not apply to emails such as receipts of purchase or replies to customer service inquiries.
We’ve laid out some basics of CAN-SPAM for you below, but this is not a thorough examination of the rules. Please check out the complete set of guidelines on the Federal Trade Commission’s site.
|...use false or misleading information in your header.||...clearly identify the person or business who sent the message. This should be easily visible in the “From”, “Reply-To”, email address, and originating domain name.|
|...use tricky or misleading subject lines.||...use the subject line to clearly identify what the content of the email is about. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and be creative with that subject line, but it should be truthful about what the recipient will find inside.|
|...hide the fact that you are a company advertising your business.||...include somewhere in the email that it is an ad. There aren’t specific guidelines on what this should look like, but it should be found in every marketing email that your business sends.|
|...conceal where your company is located.||...include a physical address for your company. This can be a street address or a registered P.O. Box, but it needs to be a current mailbox where your business can receive mail.|
|...make your recipients jump through hoops to opt out of receiving your emails.||...give a clear and obvious way for recipients to unsubscribe, and make it as painless as possible for people to unsubscribe from all emails from your business. No one likes to lose contacts, but this can help refine your list to those who have a genuine interest in your company.|
|....wait too long to remove people who have opted out of your emails.||...promptly remove contacts who have chosen to unsubscribe. You have 10 business days to honor their opt-out request.|
|...turn a blind eye to what others are sending out in your name.||...know what others, such as marketing agencies and your affiliates, are doing on your behalf. You are still legally responsible for what they do in your name, so be sure they are following these guidelines as well.|
Now is a great time to check out the emails your business is sending and make sure they are CAN-SPAM compliant!