No You CAN’t SPAM

CAN-SPAM? No this is not what you think; I’m not offering new and innovative ideas on ways to eat Spam®. Despite the name, this issue is quite serious and could have very negative consequences if your team does not manage their emails properly.

Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing, otherwise known as the CAN-SPAM Act, was established in 2003 and is regulated by the FTC and FCC. This act establishes requirements for all commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them and spells out expensive penalties for violators. According to the CAN-SPAM Act, fines up to $16,000 are possible for each incident of non-compliance with the guidelines. Gone are the days of receiving dozens of unsolicited, misleading emails that clog up our inboxes!

To clarify, per the CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business there are three basic types of emails:

1. Commercial: Advertisements or promotional messages regarding a product or service

2. Transactional: Established relations content relaying information as follow up to an agreement communication

3. Other: Content not promoting a product or service and not containing information as follow up to a previous conversation

Regardless of the email type, you should avoid these potentially costly errors:

  • Use of false or misleading information in your message header
  • Use of deceptive subject lines
  • Failure to identify message as a promotion or advertisement
  • Omission of sender’s contact information to include physical address, PO Box, or private mailbox
  • Omission of “opt-out” option for recipient to decline receipt of future emails
  • Prompt removal of “opt-out” recipients from future distribution lists
  • Improper management of vendors used for mass email distribution to insure adherence to CAN-SPAM regulations

As the old adage goes, it is better to be safe than sorry; therefore, we suggest using a do-it-yourself email content publisher, such as MailChimp, for any marketing pieces that you intend to send out. Not only is it easy to use, but it also reminds you to “keep it relevant” when it comes to your subject line and requires you to include your physical address and phone number before allowing you to send out a campaign. It also includes an easy to find, one-click “opt-out” button for those on your list who do not want to hear from you anymore.

So, in a world of KISS (keep it short and sweet), it is advisable that you err on the side of caution and maintain total transparency in your email communications. This will help you to avoid stiff penalties, being black-listed as a spammer, and/or tarnishing your professional reputation with current and future clientele.

**Special thanks to @cheyennejack and Matt Fuller for educating our team on appropriate email marketing practices as well as to Brenda Wilson, Conferencing Marketing Director at Integress, who was a significant contributor to this post.

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