Do you use email marketing to promote products and services? Are you selling to American companies? In America, the CAN-SPAM Act specifies commercial emails can be sent until recipients request to stop receiving further email communication. Once recipients filed an unsubscribe request, marketers should respect and honor the opt-out requests promptly.
CAN-SPAM law benefits both businesses and consumers in terms of transparency and accountability. Under the CAN-SPAM regulation, customers are aware of the senders’ intentions. Businesses should follow guidelines to send relevant emails, otherwise they would face a high penalty in violation of the CAN-SPAM law. Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $42,530, so non-compliance can be costly. But following the law isn’t complicated.
Here’s the CAN-SPAM compliant requirements:
- Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
- Use a physical mailing address to tell recipients where you are located. The footer of your email must include a valid physical postal address. This can be your PO Box registered with the U.S. Postal Service, your current address, or a private mailbox registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand.
- Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you.
- You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
- Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days.
- Don’t charge a fee, request the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request.
- Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law.
- Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.