The US has specific laws concerning mass emails that could land anyone who doesn’t know them in hot water.
The US Government and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created rules and regulations in 2003 specifically for email marketers. They called this project the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003, more commonly referred to as CAN-SPAM. These rules specifically outline what is considered spam and what is not.
The act is a list of guidelines and requirements for anyone who sends email as a part of a marketing campaign, and was formed in response to the huge amount of spam that began circulating in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Within the CAN-SPAM laws are rules dictating what your marketing emails can and cannot include. For example, did you know that each email needs to include the business’s physical address to comply?
Many businesses are aware of the specifics and follow CAN-SPAM rules, but in the event that a new or existing business does not adhere to the regulations they could face penalties of up to $16,000 per email, as well as loss of services from their web host. If your website or business includes direct email as a part of your marketing strategy, we recommend reading the entire CAN-SPAM act from the FTC. You can find the entire document here.
Below is a CAN-SPAM summary that can help you follow the email laws that are in place to avoid loss of money or services:
- Be sure to include either your physical business address or a PO Box where you can be reached. Either one will work as long as it is accurate.
- Never email anyone without their specific permission to receive marketing emails from your website. Simply having their email address is not enough; the receiver needs to know that they have agreed to your subscription.
- Always include opt-out or unsubscribe methods on every single email that is sent from your email address. The option must be easy to follow and free to comply with regulations.
- Never sell or share email addresses for any reason. You have been trusted to keep the information you have obtained safe and secure.
- Each email sent needs to have accurate “To”, “From” and “Reply to” fields that are easy to understand.
- Any email recipient that chooses to opt out of your email list needs to be removed within ten days. Most email providers will do this automatically, but if not the email address needs to be manually removed from the list.
- Make sure that you are closely monitoring anyone who sends email from your email address or includes your brand or personal name. Even if you are using a third party to send emails, you could still be penalized for not following CAN-SPAM protocol.
Any business who sends email as a part of a marketing campaign needs to be able to enthusiastically agree to the points above. If you are unable to do this you may be in violation of the US CAN-SPAM laws. It is worth the time to readdress your email marketing campaign to ensure that all rules are being addressed. When considering the penalties, it is better to be safe than sorry. If at any time an email seems a little risky, it is always better to not send it.
For more information regarding your email accounts please visit the WestHost knowledgebase.