Aug 20, 2014

CAN-Spam Doesn't Mean You CAN Spam

In this week's tip we are going to talk about the CAN-Spam Act and what it means for you business. (Hint: its not the same Spam as the delectable pre-cooked canned ham, it’s Spam as in those annoying emails you receive)

The CAN-Spam Act of 2003 was put in place to protect consumers from receiving unsolicited emails for commercial purposes. It sets the ground-rules for how you as a business can contact your customers, and what you must include in your correspondence. It applies to business-to-business correspondence as well.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection outlines the main components of the act:

  • Don’t use misleading headers
  • Don’t use misleading subject lines
  • Identify whether the email is an advertisement
  • Let people know where you are located
  • Let people know how to opt-out of future emails
  • Honor opt-outs quickly
  • Know what others are doing on your behalf

Sounds pretty simple, right? It can be if you have the proper checks in place, but a single violation of the CAN-Spam act can lead to a fine of $16,000. It’s definitely not something you want to mess around with. You can hire companies to do your email marketing for you, but as the last bullet point above outlines, this doesn’t take the responsibility away from you as a business owner.

Tips for creating newsletters that won’t violate the CAN-Spam Act:

  • Only use email lists that you generate internally. Collect emails on your website for “newsletter sign-ups”, ask customers if they would like to be added to your email list when they visit your location. Whatever you do, don’t purchase lists from other companies.
  • Be open and up-front with your customers and give them options. If you have a daily sale email let them know that by signing up they will receive daily emails, give them options to subscribe to a weekly summary instead.  Running multiple email campaigns can be time consuming but your customers will appreciate the different options.
  • Use an email program like HubspotConstant Contact, or MailChimp to send your emails. We use one of these programs for our newsletters and they ensure that emails are formatted correctly with opt-outs, addresses, and subject lines.

For more information on the CAN-Spam Act click here.

Happy Emailing!