The CAN SPAM Act, which took effect January 1, 2004, stipulated that all commercial emails that are sent in the United States meet certain requirements. On July 7, 2008, Congress updated the law to clarify some of the ambiguities in the initial law and refine a few points.
The law applies to commercial bulk email, not to individual or transactional
messages, such as a receipt for an online sale. So, if you send an email newsletter or any other form of bulk email communication, be sure to follow these key rules. If you don’t, you are breaking the law and could potentially be sued in federal court.
Three tips for keeping it legal below:
The sender is responsible for unsubscribing email recipients who opt-out. The company, brand, or employee name that appears in the “From” field of the email message is the “sender.” This is important to note if you are running ads for other companies. Just remember, if you are identified as the sender, you must provide email recipients with an opt-out link and ensure that they are removed from list.
When you are conducting “forward-to-a-friend” email marketing campaigns, or if you offer something in exchange for forwarding a commercial message, be sure to also follow the Act’s requirements.
If you’re an Online Outbox customer, you don’t really need to concern yourself with this. We’re handling it all for you, automatically, with every message you send.
Do not alter the Internet headers of the message.
An Internet header is a block of information that a properly configured email server tacks on automatically to identify the Internet Protocol (IP) address of where a message originated and a few other technical details.
Again, Online Outbox customers needn’t worry. We keep things above board to maintain strict compliance with email laws, and to keep your deliverability rate high.
No misleading subject lines.
If your subject line reads “Wine Country Event Registration Now Open” but your message content is about the latest male enhancement drug, you are clearly trying to trick your recipients into opening your message. Just keep your message and subject line consistent. This is a good practice regardless of its legal implications.
Whether you’re using Online Outbox, another email service provider, or blasting out thousands of emails from Outlook Express (not a good idea, by the way!), you, as the email sender, have full control of your content, so you do have an active part in following this rule. However, when you’re acting in the best interest of your readership, you act in the best interest of yourself as well. A willing subscriber will typically continue to be so. A reader who is tricked into opening your email with misleading subjects is likely to delete your message, unsubscribe from your email campaigns, or even submit a complaint of abuse.
More tips for keeping your email campaigns legal are coming in our next edition!