What You Need to Know: CAN-SPAM Laws
©2007 by Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff, The Blog Squad™
Anyone doing business online and using email for marketing needs to know about the CAN-SPAM laws.
Smart online marketers use “permission” marketing: you invite potential customers to join your email list, and offer a newsletter, a special report, or a sequential series of messages to form an e-course. The recipient “opts-in” to the list by replying to an invitation and subscribing. By "opting in", your subscriber is telling you it’s OK to send email. They’ve given you permission and your email messages are not considered spam.
But most people don’t really understand what constitutes spam. If you’re in business for any length of time on the Internet, you may encounter false accusations of spam simply because people forget they opted in receive your message. To many people spam is simply an unwanted message.
This can cause problems for you with your email service provider. You should be able to prove that you haven’t been sending unsolicited email. Your proof lies with the list management system you use that tracks invitations and opt in responses.
Here’s what you need to know about the law is so you can rest assured that you aren’t breaking it.
CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) establishes requirements for those who send commercial email, spells out penalties for spammers and companies whose products are advertised in spam if they violate the law, and gives consumers the right to ask emailers to stop spamming them.
Simply put, here’s a rundown of the law’s main provisions:
• It bans false or misleading header information. Your email’s "From," "To," and routing information must be accurate and identify the person who initiated the email.
• It prohibits deceptive subject lines. The subject line cannot mislead the recipient about the contents or subject matter of the message. Subject and content must match.
• It requires that your email give recipients an opt-out method. You must provide a return email address or an automated way for your subscriber to opt out. You must honor the requests. When you receive an opt-out request, the law gives you 10 business days to stop sending email to the requestor’s email address.
• It requires that commercial email be identified as an advertisement and include the sender’s valid physical postal address. Your message must contain clear and conspicuous notice that the message is an advertisement or solicitation and that the recipient can opt out of receiving more commercial email from you. It also must include your valid physical postal address.
One of the most efficient systems with a minimum of complaints is the ecommerce system, KickStartCart . They automatically include CAN-SPAM compliant features when they send out email broadcasts. Furthermore, if you import a list of email addresses into the system each recipient will be required to confirm they want to be on your list. All potential recipients must respond to a confirmation email in order to be included in an email list. This is called closed loop or double opt-in and is further assurance against people using the system to spam or send unsolicited messages.
While the respectable business community strives to be compliant, the spammers find new ways of circumventing the laws and jamming up email inboxes with junk. Unfortunately spam filters never do a reliable job of keeping the spam out and are more likely than not to keep legitimate email from being delivered.
The best assurance against spam complaints is to use a reliable system such as KickStartCart, and to send out valuable relevant content to your subscribers. The ratio of information to promotional messages should be in the neighborhood of 80-20 or 75-25.
As a serious business person using the Internet and email, it’s important you comply with the laws so you can avoid getting in hot water with your service provider and keep your subscribers happy.