If your business has never heard of CAN-SPAM compliance and email marketing in the same sentence, then you may be throwing your business straight into the trash like KanJam.
Ah, KanJam, what a classic game. Throwing a frisbee into a trashcan and feeling unstoppable when you make it in. Chilling on the beach with a drink in hand is the best way to play. If you’re not a beach bum that plays KanJam all day, then you're most likely interacting with emails for work daily. If your commercial emails are not CAN-SPAM compliant, your business might be headed for the trash, faster than the frisbee in KanJam. But don’t feel bad, we all learn something new every day.
What is CAN-SPAM Compliance Anyway?
The CAN-SPAM Act was initiated in 2003 and it allows email recipients the right to stop businesses from emailing them. If a business doesn’t comply with the requirements, then penalties of up to $16,000 can be incurred PER email violation. Yikes! CAN-SPAM applies to bulk emails and commercial messages - that means all of your email marketing campaigns. This could be a weekly newsletter, sales promotion announcement, follow-up emails, drip campaigns, e-blasts, etc.
The easy part of email marketing is setting up the email, the hard part is making sure they comply with the federal guidelines set for recipient protection. You can use the seven main sections of the Act listed out by the Federal Trade Commission as your checklist for CAN-SPAM.
Don’t Miss Your Mark
This Act is a whopping 15-years old and businesses, big and small, are still not compliant. Don’t miss your mark, follow these seven checkpoints:
1. Keep Your Header Honest
This snippet of code needs to clearly state the origin domain name, routing information, sender information, and other authentication details. When in doubt, remember what your Mom always told you “honesty is the best policy,” be accurate and clear.
2. Keep Your Subject Lines Simple and to the Point
Your subject line should be a short description of what the content of your emails pertain to. No one wants to get blacklisted. Avoid using exclamation points or all caps, however, feel free to be as witty and eye-catching as you want.
3. Transparency of a Commercial E-blast
Your email must specify that it’s a commercial e-blast.
- Roger West Pro Tip: put a disclosure at the bottom and state this promotion is brought to you by (business name). Boom, Easy.
4. Share Your Location
The email must include your physical postal address. This can be street, post office, or private mailbox address. Incorporating your location in the footer of the email is a perfect way to accomplish this.
5. Opt-Out Options are Mandatory
The email must contain a clear and concise explanation of how the recipient can opt-out of getting any more emails from you (the infamous unsubscribe button must be in every email).
6. Honor the Unsubscribe Request
Your business must offer the option to unsubscribe at least 30 days after the commercial email is sent, and you must honor this request within 10 business days. Do you want to know a secret? Most marketing automation systems will do this for you and auto suppress the contact when they unsubscribe.
7. Monitor Who is in Charge of Compliance
Your business can still be held legally responsible if a 3rd-party is managing your commercial emails. Monitor their work and make sure you are within the requirements. No one wants to be blacklisted because of poor email marketing practices.
Compliance and Defiance
Have we made you think CAN-SPAM compliance is easy for any business? Ding! Ding! You’re correct, it is. If compliance is so easy, how come some businesses are noncompliant? And do these businesses bare the repercussions for their actions? We wish we had the answer for you. Some businesses may not have done their research or just think they can slide by, hoping no big hitters file a claim with the Federal Trade Commission. Non-Compliant businesses are dancing with the devil and we don’t recommend anyone taking the risk.
As a digital marketing agency we see new data privacy laws, data breach laws, email laws, etc. being created every year, along with older laws like CAN-SPAM. Businesses need to be ready to take on all the mandatory laws ahead of them. 2019 and 2020 will be huge with new digital laws surfacing and we all have to be ready.