We all despise spam. It clogs up our inboxes and the spelling is atrocious. It often carries malware, too, and no, most of us aren’t in the market for random pills from unknown sources that might have an effect one way or another on our libido or any other biological function.
But spam is more than ridiculous bulk emails sent out by botnets to sell artisanal Louis Vuitton knockoffs. Any commercial email, sent in mass quantities or not, can be classified as spam according to the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act. If you’re in sales or if your business markets via email, familiarize yourself with the regulations. Otherwise, you may send spam without realizing it.
Spam is an effective way to alienate customers and clients, plus your company could be fined up to $16,000 for CAN-SPAM Act violations. Such hefty penalties are unlikely for a minor isolated infraction, but why risk even a measly $5,000 fine when it’s easily avoided? Anyway, nobody wants to end up in the FTC’s little black book, which rumor has it isn’t so little.
1. Use Clear Header Information
To ensure your company’s commercial emails are on the up-and-up, keep header information honest and direct. Clearly and accurately indicate what the message is about in the subject line. Put appropriate names in the “To” and “From” fields and provide recipients with a way to respond. Identify advertisements in accordance with the law. Include a physical address at which your business is located or can be contacted.
If you think you have to dupe recipients into opening your email using tricky tactics, should you be sending that email?
2. Have an Easy Opt-Out Process
Email marketing is far more effective when sent to an opt-in mailing list. But whether or not you’ve gone this route, all commercial email must give recipients an obvious way to opt out of further email contact. Opting out must be as easy as responding to the message or taking action on a single web page reached directly via a link in the email. This page may offer recipients the ability to opt in and out of different types of email, but must also permit them to opt out of all messages.
Your unsubscribe function must be responsive to opt-out requests for at least 30 days after an email was sent. You have 10 days to comply. There cannot be a charge or request for any personal information besides an email address. Once a recipient opts out, you lose rights to sell or give their email address to another party, unless it is to a company assisting yours in becoming CAN-SPAM compliant.
3. Make Sure All Company Emails are Compliant
As a final caution, establish and enforce clear rules for any company or individual you employ to handle your email marketing campaigns. You don’t need an employee getting “creative” with email marketing. Your company is legally responsible for commercial emails sent on its behalf. In fact, both your company and the party you hire can be held liable for spam and the penalties it incurs.
4. Use Email to Inform and be Useful, Not to Pitch Products
What really constitutes spam, beyond the official definition, is in the eyes of the recipient. If your sales letter email catches a person on a bad day, many months after they forgot they ever opted into your list, they could flag you as a spammer. However, if your emails are informative and useful to prospects, you’re unlikely to elicit an annoyed response, and the chances that they’ll want to read what you share are greatly improved. Best Free VPN
You may not be peddling Viagra from a Canadian pharmacy or PhDs from an online 4-week correspondence course, but you’re still capable of sending spam. Take a quick look at the email template your business sends and your opt-out mechanism to ensure compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act and FTC regulations. It protects your company’s reputation and can prevent thousands of dollars in fines
Neal Lacy works for United Call Center, handling live order taking in Lake Havasu City, AZ. He is an expert on professional answering services and writes widely about telemarketing in general.