George W. Bush signed the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which enforced national standards on commercial emails by the FTC. But what does this mean for your business?
CAN-SPAM, or the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing, defines a “commercial electronic mail message” as "any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose)." The purpose of this act is to stop malicious or deceiving email tactics, and to hold those responsible accountable.
What steps do you need to take to follow this act?
- Don’t use false or misleading header information
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines
- Identify the message as an ad
- Tell recipients where you’re located (a legitimate physical address for your business must be used, but PO boxes are acceptable)
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future emails from your business
- Honor opt-out requests promptly
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf
Failure to comply with these standards could get your business into trouble with the government, and lawsuits could emerge. If a message is considered a “relationship” message (i.e. thank you emails, customer service emails, etc.) then there are no restrictions under this act; but if the message includes commercial content, or its main purpose is commercial, then it must follow CAN-SPAM laws.
Other things to know about CAN-SPAM:
- Do not sell or transfer email addresses to another list after a customer has requested to opt out.
- You cannot charge a fee or require the customer to provide additional information when they have requested to opt out of your emails.
- The unsubscribe process should be simple and not deceptive or confusing.
- Subject lines must accurately represent the body of your message.
So now that your business knows how to comply with CAN-SPAM, get started with your email marketing today!