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:
- Dont use misleading headers
- Dont 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. Its 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 doesnt take the responsibility away from you as a business owner.
Tips for creating newsletters that wont 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, dont 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 Hubspot, Constant 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.