In 2003, the U.S. enacted the CAN-SPAM Act. This law was intended to prevent solicitation and has many provisions to protect consumers from receiving unwanted emails.

But many smaller companies are violating CAN-SPAM in their email marketing campaigns and don’t even know it. Unfortunately, the consequences of noncompliance can get you into serious trouble, not to mention racking up some hefty legal fees.

Is your business’s email strategy up to snuff? Take a look through this quick checklist to find out!

The 4 Rules of Email Marketing

1. Do your subscribers know where their emails are coming from?

One of the most important CAN-SPAM requirements is that every email’s subject line contains information about its sender. Is your business’s name included in the “From” line of your emails? If your recipients can’t easily figure out where the email is coming from, then it’s illegal.

2. Are your subject lines misleading?

Dishonest subject lines are an absolute no-go in the eyes of the law.

Your subscribers should be able to tell at a glance what the actual content of the email is. So don’t write “Free $100 Gift!” in your subject line if the email is actually about a product release. Sure, you might get a few extra clicks from a misleading subject line. But is it worth the possibility of a lawsuit further down the line?

3. Do you provide a mailing address?

By law, every commercial email must contain the physical address of your business. Place it at the end of every email, where it’s easily accessible without distracting from your content. This lets subscribers know that you’re a legitimate business, and gives them an alternative way to unsubscribe if they need to do so.

4. Is it easy to opt out?

Of course, no one wants their subscribers to opt-out of receiving emails, but you need to make it an option. This requires two main components: an opt-out link and a prompt follow-up.

Every email you send must have a link to unsubscribe, and the process needs to be easy to follow. In addition, the opt-out needs to be processed promptly. The CAN-SPAM Act mandates that the procedure take no longer than 10 days, so make sure that you have a procedure to deal with unsubscribe requests in a timely manner.

Further Information

CAN-SPAM is a long and sometimes confusing piece of legislation. This is not a complete guide to all of its complexities, but if you follow these simple suggestions you’re on your way to ensuring compliance.

If you’re interested in learning more about CAN-SPAM’s intricacies, the Federal Trade Commission offers a handy guide to compliance for businesses. You can find it here.

The next time you’re putting together an email marketing campaign, use your good judgment and make sure to include all these essential elements. Always remember: common sense and honesty are your best policies!

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