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7 Steps to Assure Legal Email Marketing Techniques

A look at the CAN-SPAM Act helps publishers stay safe

Have you ever looked at the requirements for businesses sending commercial email? The CAN-SPAM Act was designed to protect consumers from spam overload by focusing on “any electronic mail message the primary focus of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” This includes emails promoting the content on commercial websites.

If a company is found in violation of CAN-SPAM, the penalty can reach upwards of $16,000. To avoid such a cumbersome penalty, publishers need to be aware of the main legal requirements.

Below is a look at the seven main requirements of the legislation.

1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. This rule pertains specifically to the “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information associated with your email campaigns. All parties need to be accurate in your mailings.

2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. This is an email best practice, even before the law was enacted. If you want to keep recipients on your email list, you need to be honest with them.

3. Identify the message as an ad. According to the Bureau of Consumer Protection, “the law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this”. If you follow the other requirements, and clearly show that your email is an advertisement, there should not be a problem.

At the Mequoda Daily, our email promotions are labeled as ‘Spotlights’ because they highlight a specific product or event. The featured item is clearly represented and the call to action of purchasing is very blatant.

4. Tell recipients where you’re located. A valid physical postal address is required somewhere in your emails. We recommend including it at the bottom of your mailing with required information, including how to opt out of the list.

5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future emails from you. In our newsletters, we include a link for users to manager their accounts. Here, you can choose which newsletter they would like to opt out of. If so any reason they are unable to do this for themselves, we provide an email address they can contact for assistance. Providing multiple points of correspondence makes the task easier for the user.

6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. If a recipient asks to be unsubscribed from your list, you are required to do so within 10 business days.

7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. If you higher outside email marketing firms, you are still held accountable for any of the actions they take. Make sure you are aware who’s in charge or your emailing, and everything they do on your behalf.

Even if you work for a company that has a reputable email service provider, it’s worth the time to double-check your email campaigns to assure compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. Errors can take place when email templates are changed, so brief analysis can keep your email flow consistent with regulations.

Originally published 3/14/12

Posted in Audience Development Strategy

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