To be CAN-SPAM compliant or not to be CAN-SPAM compliant, that hints at the question. The actual question is are you not a spammer or are you a spammer?
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re not a spammer. However, to be sure, always ensure your emails fit these legal guidelines:
- Don’t use false or misleading header information: The “From” email address, “Reply-To” email address, “From” name, and domain name should all be genuine and relate to your company.
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines: Don’t read this as a restriction on creativity! By all means be creative with your subject line and use something that will “hook” your reader, but make sure it’s relevant to your email’s content.
- Identify the message as an ad: Be straightforward about your content. This should be a no-brainer. If you’re trying to have someone buy your product or services, don’t disguise that as a personal email.
- Tell recipients where you’re located: This is most frequently listed in small type at the bottom of an email. You must include the following: a valid physical postal address and a valid phone number.
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving a future email from you: Email 101. Have an unsubscribe link. It does not need to be flashy, but it needs to be there. Generally this can be found in the same small type at the email’s footer that contains the address and phone number.
- Honor opt-out requests promptly: If you’re using a good Email Service Provider (ESP), you shouldn’t even need to worry about this. Most ESPs (we use Campaign Monitor) will automatically take anyone off your list who unsubscribes or marks your email as spam. It’s automated, so no sleepless nights for us. You should always verify that your ESP is managing these for you. If it’s not, you’ll have to manually remove these people within 10 days. Unless you love manual data entry, if your ESP is not managing these automatically, it’s time to find a new one.
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf: If you’re not handling your email campaigns, and you’ve hired someone else to handle them for you, you are still liable. Make sure you partner with a team that you trust. For good measure, it doesn’t hurt to show your email marketing know-how and ask your team about these issues!
Should your campaigns violate any of these rules, and you fall into the murky spam waters, you not only risk your current campaign, but all future campaigns as well. In the email universe there are black holes, referred to as blacklists. If the IP address you’re sending emails from is linked to spam in someway, it is kicked onto a blacklist. If your IP address is blacklisted, much like a black hole, you’re not getting out. What this means is that if you become blacklisted, all of your future email campaigns will be heavily filtered or completely blocked from hitting your recipients’ inboxes. Houston, that’s a problem.
Although a blacklist is a drastic measure, your sender reputation is also important. There are now algorithms (based on volume of email sent, bounce rate, mark as spam complaints, if you’re emailing spam trap addresses [basically an email undercover cop], how long you’ve been sending emails, and whether you have the tools and capabilities to handle bounces, etc.) that calculate your overall score. It’s essentially like a credit score but for email campaigns.
Aside from the scares of being blacklisted and damaging your sender reputation, your credibility is at stake, too. If you’re not compliant, it could quickly turn off your customers and prospects, completely destroying your lead generation. No credibility, no leads — and if you’re not generating leads, what’s the point?
Now, when comparing the jail time to the amount of time it takes to become compliant, it becomes pretty clear. These rules are simple and so easy to accommodate, why wouldn’t you? Trust us, your digital street cred will be thankful you did.