Email Marketing: I Don’t Want to Be a Spammer
Spam isn’t something people look forward to seeing when they open up their inbox, nor is it something than any email marketer wants their promotions listed as. Spam is defined as one or more unsolicited messages, sent or posted as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantially identical content. “Spammer” is a hard label to shake off. There is only one sure way to evade being identified as a spammer while email marketing.
The only way to not be labeled as a spammer is to comply with the Controlling Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, or CAN-SPAM. What is that, you say? CAN-SPAM, a law originally passed in 2003, governs whether emails are considered a legal communication or an illegal piece of unsolicited spam. Email that contains any kind of marketing information or customer solicitation must act in absolute accordance with this law. Non-compliance is punishable by the US Federal Government including, but not limited to, fines up to $16,000. Sounds horrible, right? Well, complying with this law is much more painless than it seems. Using your email lists for email marketing purposes is a complex business. Yes, it is a complicated law with millions of little loopholes.
However there are some simple questions and requests that, if addressed, guarantee you are meeting the expectations set by CAN-SPAM for email marketing:
Who are you?
Your domain must show who you really are. You cannot lie about who you are or your company is. The information a prospective customer sees must be that of you and/or your company.
What is this?
You cannot embellish the subject line with fluff to get the client to open it. The subject line of your email must state what the email is about. It cannot be misleading in any way to the customer. Therefore, if you are advertising coffee, your subject line must have something to do with coffee, java, or warm morning beverages.
What is the point of this?
Somewhere in your message, you must state that this email is meant for advertisement. You can word this any way you want, as long as the point remains clear. (small print still keeps you in compliance)
Where are you?
You cannot send out advertisements via email without having a real physical address. You must always include some kind of physical postal address in your emails. This ensures that you are not a made-up business trying to scam people out of money.
I don’t want to!
You must include in your email a way for clients to opt out. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The option has to be there.
Take me off the list!
This is the most complicated part. When people request to be off your email list, you must take that extremely seriously. From the time that is communicated, you have 10 business days to remove them. You are not permitted to charge any kind of a removal fee, and the customer may not be required to do anything more than reply to an email or visit a SINGLE website for removal. Federal law prohibits you from requesting any information from the person requesting removal other than the user’s email address. You cannot sell or rent out their email information after the removal, and they must stay removed from ALL of your email lists for a minimum of 30 days. Meaning, that person should receive no email marketing from you or your company for that time.
What’s the company doing?
Know what is going on. You are personally responsible for the people you hire or authorize, in any way, to send email on your behalf. Know what they are doing, and make sure that they are complying with CAN-SPAM as well or you may take the fall for it.
Sure it seems like a lot, but if you are marketing your product, company, or service(s) via email lists most of these guidelines should already be utilized in the first place. Failing to adhere to these clear-cut guidelines sure seems like a silly reason to have your entire email marketing project and possibly your business shut down, not to mention paying that large fee, doesn’t it? The first step in any endeavor is educating yourself. Now that you are informed on the matter at hand, use this information and your email lists to continue building your business, using America’s number one source of information, leads, and communication; the World Wide Web.