The CAN-SPAM Act is possibly one of the simplest forms of government regulation with which businesses of all sizes can achieve quick compliance.
While we all know that SPAM laws are deliberately broken each day – you only have to look at the volume of SPAM in your Inbox (currently increasing at an average of 1.2% per day according to a Google report) – it is actually the act of non-deliberate spamming that is putting many a small business at risk of non-compliance and hefty fines.
The CAN-SPAM Act – More than Just Preventing Junk Mail
The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act of 2003 regulates more than just what we typically consider electronic junk mail. For example, did you know that if you fail to include your postal address on a commercial email (HTML or text) then you could be fined up to $11,000?
If your small business sends out email “whose primary purpose is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service, including content on a Web site”, you will need to familiarize yourself with online advertising law and the CAN-SPAM Act.
Many commercial email broadcast software and tools can help small business owners ease the process of compliance with handy features such as built-in opt-out tools, list management services, guidance on email content, etc.
Once you understand the fundamentals, the habit of applying it to your email marketing will quickly become so ingrained into your psyche that when email crosses your path that doesn’t comply – it will stand out like a sore thumb.
Complying with the CAN-SPAM Act
Whether you thought that CAN-SPAM was a tinned meat product, or you have some awareness of the legalities that govern online marketing practices and just need a refresher, here are a few simple steps that you can take to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act:
1. Keep your Email Header Information Honest – All email marketing headers, i.e. the “From”, “To” and routing information (including the originating domain name and email address) must accurately identify the person or entity sending the email.
2. Don’t Mislead with Your Subject Lines – Keeping subject lines honest and to the point will also help target your specific customers pain points and needs. If you put copy in the “Subject” field that contains misleading information about the contents of the message, you could be breaking the law.
3. Provide an Unsubscribe or Opt-Out Method – You must provide a “clear and conspicuous” return email address or another online response mechanism that lets the recipient “opt-out” of your future mailings.
4. Honor and Manage all Unsubscribe Requests – Simply providing an opt-out method is not enough. You be able to process all opt-out requests within 30 days of the original email being sent, and stop sending email to the requestor’s email address within 10 days of the original request. You are then prohibited from using other avenues to reach these opt-outs, such as a have another send email on your behalf.