CAN-SPAM and Your Holiday Business Email Marketing

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the upcoming Holidays, businesses are tempted to send e-mails to anyone with an inbox. Many not considering that commercial emails should be sent only to those who have requested your information.   Sending to those who give you permission literally is your best bet for instilling creditability and relationship building.

With that said, individuals and businesses buy lists (or assume those who they have communicated with want to be added to their list) and continue to send commercial emails to onliners who did not specifically request their information or advertisement be sent to them.  Whether you are buying lists (that you have vetted and know are reliable) or sending commercial emails to those who you do not have direct permission from, it behooves you to be familiar with what the CAN-SPAM Act requires of you.

Here’s a rundown of the CAN-SPAM act main provisions (taken verbatim from the FTC site):

  • It bans false or misleading header information. Your email’s “From,” “To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – 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.
  • It requires that your email give recipients an opt-out method. You must provide a return email address or another Internet-based response mechanism that allows a recipient to ask you not to send future email messages to that email address, and you must honor the requests. You may create a “menu” of choices to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to end any commercial messages from the sender.
  • 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.

Visit the Compliance Guide on the FTC’s site for all the legal mumbo jumbo.

Most folks who email without direct permission do not include the above minimal requirements and therefore cannot complain when they are reported as spammers or their emails/domains get blacklisted.  Not to mention the negative perception that possible potential customers may now have of them.

There is no way around the fact that your customer’s inboxes are jammed with junk they did not ask for, do not want and inevitably do not read.  Do your best to not contribute to that clutter by sending out your properly structured emails to those who you know want them and are open to your message.