What is CAN-SPAM and why does it matter to your business?
Sending email campaigns or newsletters to your audience? Thinking about it? The CAN-SPAM act is something you need to keep in mind. You may think of the internet as the wild west in terms of regulation. That would be a fallacy to believe, and the main sheriff, CAN-SPAM can seriously ruin your day if found to be in violation of the rule.
Three Types of Email
With CAN-SPAM what matters is the primary purpose of the email. There are three types of email messages and of the three types only one of which is regulated by CAN-SPAM.
- Commercial content or that which advertises or promotes a commercial product or service. A website operated for a commercial purpose, means emailing a newsletter linking back to your website’s blog, puts that email in to the commercial realm.
- Transactional or relationship content is when you’ve already performed a service or transaction with the customer and are updating them either about a past or ongoing transaction.
- Other – any content that is not commercial, or transactional/relationship.
What is CAN-SPAM?
CAN-SPAM or the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003 is legislation passed by the United States Congress that regulates commercial email. A commercial email is any communication you send that has “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.” In plain english, it means any email you send about your business in any facet: cold emails, newsletters, email campaigns, ect., are all considered to be commercial emails. SPAM is considered to be any commercial email the receiver did not agree to receive.
Think it’s not a big deal if you get reported for a CAN-SPAM violation? It can truly be a deciding factor in whether or not your business goes bankrupt. EACH email you send found to be in violation of the law is subject to penalties of up to $41,484, and there are other factors which may increase the fines you are subjected to. Take note that more than one person can be held responsible for the violations. Still think it’s not a big deal?
How to Remain CAN-SPAM Compliant
Staying CAN-SPAM isn’t hard as there are a few things the law says you must do. Do these simple, easy steps and your emails remain CAN-SPAM complaint.
- Don’t send to people who haven’t stated they want to receive email from you. Sounds easy enough. If you send to a person who hasn’t asked to hear from you, or who you have never contacted before you are being a spammer you. Just don’t.
- Have an unsubscribe option. Sending an email to someone who has expressed interest in the past? Make sure they can unsubscribe from your email communications.
- If unsubscribes happen DO NOT RESUBSCRIBE THEM. Once a person no longer wants to hear from you via email that’s it. You can not re-add them and you MUST unsubscribe them within 10 days. They can chose to resubscribe at a later date, but it isn’t a choice you can make choice for them.
- Make sure your header information isn’t false or misleading. “From”, “To” and “Reply-To” must be accurate and identify who you are. Your domain and email address must also be accurate.
- Subject Lines must reflect the content of the message accurately.
- Identify the message as an ad.
- You must include a physical address. It’s against the law to not have a valid physical postal address. Work from home? Get a P.O. Box, a private mailbox, or use your home location. As long as there is a physical address, it doesn’t matter what kind of physical address it is.
Staying compliant with CAN-SPAM is a requirement for any digital marketing agency doing business today. Failing to maintain compliance could cause harm to your reputation as well as your bank account. As long as you cover your bases you should have no issues. Questions or concerns? Reach out to us at 518.694.0044.