Email,  Marketing

CAN-SPAM Laws Demystified

What is CAN-SPAM?

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM Act) is a series of rules and regulations specific to email marketing and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. These standards were made law in 2003.

What’s Involved

Email marketing is a broad field, but essentially, CAN-SPAM applies to any email with the purposes of commercial advertisement or promoting commercials products or services.

What Does it Mean For My Business?

While email marketing is a proven effective communication tool, it can get your business into some expensive trouble if you aren’t careful about what you communicate to your client/customer base.

To be more specific, for each separate email that violates CAN-SPAM, your company could be charged up to $41,484. These rules aren’t meant to stifle you, but they do give email recipients a fair opportunity to understand and opt-out of marketing campaigns.

Follow the Rules!

In short, it behooves you to stay in line with the rules and regulations of email marketing, but what are the rules?

1. Always be up-front with your customers

That means that you need to have a clear email address and a clear business name in email. You also have to be clear in indicating that what you are sending is an advertisement. So your “From,” “To,” and “Reply to” information so be accurate and non-misleading. With that, your subject line should also be clear about the email content.

2. Disclose That It’s an Ad

Somewhere in your email, your business needs to clearly identify that the email is an advertisement. How you do this is up to you, but the FTC states that the message must be “clear and conspicuous”.

3. You’re Responsible

One of the most important things you should know about CAN-SPAM is that your business is ultimately responsible for any content you send out. That means if you have a marketing manager that creates your content and doesn’t follow the rules, you (the owner) are still liable for any violations.

4. Allow for Opt-out

One rule of CAN-SPAM is that you have to allow customers to opt-out of receiving emails from you in the future. Not only that, but you also have to honor that request within 10 business days. Emails should have a working link for opting out that works at least 30 days after delivering the email. The FTC recommends using colors and font type that makes it easy for an average user to see clearly.

5. Physical Address

Somewhere in your email, usually in the footer, needs to be a valid address, either a street address or post office box.

In short, if you’re in doubt about what you can and cannot do when it comes to email marketing, err on the side of being open and honest about your business practices and consult the FTC.

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