Everyone understands the importance of internet marketing, specifically the effectiveness of a targeted e-mail strategy. However, e-mail marketing compliance is often the last things a small business owner considers when creating his or her marketing plan. The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act was passed in 2003 and has major implications for e-mail marketers and consequences for violators. In fact, violators can be charged up to $16,000 for each separate e-mail that violates the CAN-SPAM Act. Consider the main features of this legislation:
What E-Mails Must Comply with CAN-SPAM?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), any e-mail whose "primary purpose" is commercial must comply with the act. Any e-mail that advertises your business or promotes your products and services is subject to CAN-SPAM guidelines.
E-mails considered "transactional" or “relationship content" do not have to comply with all the CAN-SPAM requirements. For example, if you send payment receipts, shipping information or simply respond to customer inquiries, you do not have to abide by all the guidelines. Some do still apply though. Marketers are prohibited from using inaccurate information in the "to" and "from" fields. The e-mail address and domain must definitively indicate who the message is coming from.
What Are the Rules?
If your e-mails are subject to the CAN-SPAM Act, consider the following guidelines.
• Headers, domains and subject lines must be clear and not deceptive.
• You must state that the message is an advertisement.
• Your message must include your postal address in the body of the e-mail.
• You must provide an option to unsubscribe from the e-mail list, and follow-up on those requests within 10 business days. Whatever unsubscribe tool you use should be able to continue processing the requests for 30 days after the original e-mail was sent.
Lastly, keep in mind that the FTC doesn't differentiate between you and a third party that may be sending your e-mails on your behalf. Ask your provider how they handle the "opt-out" feature and any other compliance issues.
Contact us to develop an e-mail marketing strategy that is in compliance with the law.