Today, most businesses take advantage of email marketing. Whatever form it takes, email has proven itself to be an excellent way for companies to reach a large audience and engage with them.
What with how popular email marketing is, most companies know the basics. How to set it up, how to format and schedule promotional emails and the like. However, many are not too familiar with the federal compliance guidelines that are put in place to protect the consumer. The act that is most relevant to email marketing is the CAN-SPAM Act – The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, which was set up to protect consumers from unsolicited emails, whatever form they took.
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 contains a list of requirements that email marketers must strictly follow. However, the Federal Trade Commission helpfully has a list of seven main sections of the Act that can be used as a guideline so that you can ensure that your business’s marketing emails are not violating the act.
At VerifyBee, we follow these requirements strictly. We make sure that our clients are aware of the rules as well so that they do not encounter any unexpected issues. While anyone using an email marketing platform like MailChimp will find it easier to stay compliant to the CAN-SPAM Act due to the platform’s own rules and regulations, we have noticed issues in certain companies’ marketing materials. With that in mind, this article is intended as a refresher and reminder for everyone in email marketing, both new and old.
The Seven Guidelines from the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
1) Have An Honest Header
This simply means that your email has to clearly identify your business/brand. Make sure the “from” and the “reply to” sections of the email have the correct information about your business.
2) Have An Honest Subject Line
We know that you want to increase your open rates, but don’t try to trick or deceive your subscribers into opening your emails by a misleading subject line. Include a short explanation of the content of the email and try for something snappy, but otherwise, stay honest. There are many ways to create impactful subject lines without resorting to dishonesty.
3) Do Not Try To Hide That You’re Advertising
Let’s face it. You know it’s an ad, your subscribers know it’s an ad. Don’t try to hide it. You don’t need to say it’s an ad in the subject line or even the main content of the email. However, if you want to stay compliant to the CAN-SPAM Act, you need to mention somewhere in your email that it is an advertisement. Try something like placing a small text at the bottom of your marketing material that reads “This advertisement was sent by Your Business Name.”
4) Don’t Hide Your Location
Exactly what it says. Make sure that every email has your current physical business address, ideally at the bottom. You can use a P.O. box if you don’t want people to send mail to your actual business location. But an address is needed nonetheless.
5) Make It Easy To Opt-out
We know that you want as many subscribers as possible, so it’s not a good thing to see an opt-out request. But you’re not going to do any favors to yourself by holding subscribers hostage by making it hard for your subscribers to opt-out. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that every email you send contains a way to unsubscribe from that email list. Don’t just offer a method, but also make sure that it is as easy as possible. Ideally only requiring a click or two at max.
6) Remove People When They Opt-out
Once people have requested to opt-out, there is no point holding on to them with sadness. While most unsubscribes happen automatically, especially if you are using an email marketing platform, do take a look and ensure that the opt-out does go through. Sometimes, even a delay of 24-48 hours can end up annoying your customers. If you go beyond 10 days, you will be violating the CAN-SPAM Act. Do know that once someone’s email is removed from your mailing list, you are not permitted to use it in any way at all.
7) Don’t Get Complacent
If you are using third-party software to manage your business’s email marketing, it can be easy for you to get complacent. That would be ultimately bad for your business. Know that it is your responsibility to ensure that your email campaign is compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act. Keep alert. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Your Business and The Importance of the CAN-SPAM Act
The ultimate intent of the CAN-SPAM Act is to protect consumers. However, adhering to it only enhances your business’ success. By complying with the Act, you are building a transparent and honest relationship between yourself and your subscribers. All of the CAN-SPAM Act’s rules only make your emails less likely to be marked as spam or junk. That only improves your campaign as a whole. As you probably already know, accounts with too many spam complaints often get blocked, sometimes permanently.
Further, infringement of the Act will cost your company a considerable amount. Penalties can go up to and over $41,000 per violation. This is not a rule that you want to break. And once you have a template with all of the CAN-SPAM Act requirements set-up, it’s not hard to follow the rules. So, make sure that you do. If you need any help or further clarification, feel free to get in touch with us at VerifyBee, where we can clear any doubts you may have.