Quick question, did you know there’s a law about sending emails? Yes? No? Well, there is, and it’s called the CAN-SPAM Act. And if you’re “promoting or advertising commercial products or services through electronic communication,” you have to comply with the law or face some hefty penalties. HEAVY PENALTIES!!!
Before we delve into those rules, (we are itching to), let’s take you through a crash course in History 101. Back in 2003, President George Bush signed the CAN-SPAM Act bill into law in a bid to stop the onslaught of spam that landed in everyone’s inbox. The law was later updated in 2008. The fact is, if you are not a news buff, you might have missed this one.
So back to the rules, we’ll outline the seven key components of the law that you, the email sender should know and follow. Are you ready to learn? Here we go:
- Tell readers where your email is coming from
The first thing you need to understand is that the law is hinged on honesty. The “From,” “To” and “Reply to” labels need to tell the recipient where the email comes from. In other words, these fields should contain the person’s name or the business name sending the email.
- Write an honest subject line
Always remember, it’s all about honesty. Your subject line should always reflect what’s in the email. You can’t be deceptive or elusive here. In other words, don’t write “Claim your $1000 gift card” in the subject line just to get people to open an email that’s really about a new product.
- Recognize you’re sending an ad
Still in the spirit of honesty, acknowledge that the email you want to send is, in fact, an ad. This isn’t compulsory if everyone on your list has given you permission to send emails. We strongly suggest that you get permission from all of your subscribers before sending emails.
- Give an address
Each email must contain the postal address for the person or business sending the email. It helps to portray your business as a credible one and offers another way for your recipients to opt-out of your emails if they need to.
- Every email needs an easy opt-out option
You must always make it easy for your subscribers to be able to opt-out (or unsubscribe) from your messages. You have to give this option to your subscribers in every message you send. At the bottom of the email, you can provide a link to unsubscribe. The process should be easy too; that was one of the additions to the law in 2008. Don’t be shady!!!
- Honor opt-outs quickly
If at any point a subscriber wants off your list, you have a maximum 10 days to do it. You can’t, we repeat, YOU CAN NOT charge any fees for this service, ask for any personal information, or sell the person’s contact information to another company.
- Monitor what others do for you
It doesn’t matter if you have hired an independent company to manage your email list, you will still be held responsible if the company breaks any of these rules.
The law is basically about using good judgment. We know you’ve got that as an organization. But the next time you set up your next email campaign, it wouldn’t hurt to check it against this list of rules to make sure everything is airtight.
We hope this post was helpful.