Everyone knows the formulaic set-up comics use to comment on quirky human behavior. It’s often the tiniest nugget of truth that draws the biggest laughs.
The truth in business, however, is that some companies, intentionally or not, still spam their email recipients. When you consider the size of the fine–up to $16,000 per message–getting caught junking up peoples’ inboxes is no laughing matter.
Legislators introduced the CAN-SPAM Act in 2003 to protect the public from receiving an unwanted barrage of unsolicited, unwanted, and often inappropriate commercial messages;
the law still governs integrated marketers and email service providers (ESPs) today.
CAN-SPAM defines commercial messages as “any electronic mail message, the primary purpose of which is the…advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”
Legal Counsel and Self-Policing
The industry best practice is to have marketers and legal counsel review company email programs and practices. Meanwhile, you might be a spammer if you fail to follow established mandates that require you to:
- Identify yourself plainly. Wherever possible, such as in the routing information and “From” line, make it clear that you are the sender.
- Use crystal clear subject lines. Find tips for writing clear, spam-free subject lines in our previous post that includes citations from a study of one billion-plus B2B marketing emails.
- Make your advertising obvious. Email messaging should clearly signal your intent to sell products or services. Information must be accurate and truthful. Qualifying any verbiage or offers in the fine print could spell trouble.
- Include a valid physical postal address. Showing your location makes you more transparent. This is easily achieved in most modern email-platform templates.
- Give recipients a way to unsubscribe. All legitimate email marketing includes a clear and obvious way to opt-out. Here’s how to create emails people actually want to receive.
- Drop users from your list after they unsubscribe. Making it easy to say good-bye is only going half-way. By law, you have 10 days to unsubscribe users who have asked to be dropped.
- Monitor third-parties who act on your behalf. Lawmakers will hold you accountable for emails sent by outside agencies or ESPs. Unfortunately, the “we didn’t know” defense won’t hold up in court.
Email marketing works best when practiced with integrity. View or download the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM Compliance Guide. Or visit our expansive email-marketing tip archive to improve the targeting, quality, content and response rates of your next campaign.
Last modified: September 21, 2017