While some of the policies imposed by CAN-SPAM can feel a little restrictive, not following these rules can put you and your business in hot water. Here's what you need to stay on the right side of the law.
CAN-SPAM makes it clear that marketing emails can't try to deceive their recipients. The law states clearly that any email meant to be used as an advertisement must have the following:
- An honest "from" or "reply to" field: Businesses must clearly identify who and where the email is coming from. The person or company responsible for the email has to be clearly and immediately identifiable.
- A clear subject line: Marketers must fill the subject line with a phrase that states clearly what the advertisement entails, whether it's to promote a sale or simply make customers aware of their products.
- A business address: An address of where to physically reach the person or business sending the emails not only gives the emails legitimacy, it gives the customer an additional avenue by which to opt out of receiving any more emails.
Some businesses and marketers might try to disguise the fact that an email is commercial because they assume that consumers tend to immediately discard such emails without reading their contents.
The law says that in order to receive commercial marketing messages in their email inboxes, a private citizen has to opt-in. There are several ways email marketers can do so. But the law calls for these tactics to be clear, honest and above board.
Many businesses are inclined to believe that an opt-out button isn't necessary, but the law states otherwise. Every business email you receive has an unsubscribe button for a reason. This isn't just out of courtesy to the customer; it's mandated by CAN-SPAM.
The laws of email marketing state that all advertising emails must have a link to opt out of receiving any more emails. This action must be simple, requiring little effort on the consumers end, for marketers to stay compliant with federal regulations.
Big League Liability
You may believe that if you outsource your email marketing to a third-party company, your business can maintain plausible deniability for any email that violates the law. But that’s the wrong assumption.
CAN-SPAM makes it clear that the company advertising its products and services is liable for any violations and can be held accountable. So make sure that a third party vendor carrying out your email marketing campaigns remains compliant with federal regulations.
What are the consequences of violating CAN-SPAM? Bottom line – they're significant. The law states that any email caught violating these regulations can result in a $16,000 fine per email for the business responsible. Thus, a business sending out the same email to its client and customer lists, faces a fine of $16,000 multiplied by the size of those lists. With a lot of subscribers, one mistake could sink a business financially.
Email is still an effective way to promote your business to your target audience. But you can't just send whatever you want. With these email marketing rules as your guide, you can be sure you stay on the right side of the law.