Email Marketing: How to Avoid Opening A Can of Spam Worms

No one likes to be called names. In marketing, one of the worst imaginable is the dreaded “S” word: spammer. In an age where email is one of the most common mediums to market a business, it is important to remember that email can be a fun, creative way to promote your company as long as certain rules are followed. These requirements, nestled under the somewhat intimidating name CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, aren’t as difficult to understand as one may think. Here are some quick tips on how to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act and avoid angry clients and prospects (as well as scary legal ramifications):


  • Identify the Message Properly: Disclose that your message is an advertisement. There are various ways to do this while still being compliant with the Act, and the FTC does give leeway. Adding the verbiage “Opt Out of This Advertisement” as your opt-out link would be a good way to identify the email as an ad. Another way would be to provide text at the bottom of the email that says something along the lines of “You are receiving this email advertisement because you have expressed an interest in [company] or are currently doing business with [company].”


  • Process Your Opt Outs Regularly – Have you ever given your email to company that ended up emailing you ten times a day, only to crowd your inbox and ignore your desperate attempts to opt out? No one likes to receive unwanted email.  Ensure that recipients are given a clear and valid explanation of how to opt out of your emails, respect any and all opt out requests and be sure to process them within 10 business days of receiving them.


  • Include Your Address – When promoting your company via email, having a valid email address for recipients to respond to isn’t enough. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that all emails include a valid physical postal address of the company (this can be a post office box, a private mailbox or the main address of your place of business).


  • Don’t Be Tricky With Subject Lines – While “Congratulations! You’ve Just Won a Free Laptop!” may seem like a brilliant way to get individuals to open your email, the CAN-SPAM Act requires that subject lines accurately represent the content of the email message.


  • Don’t Be Tricky With Header Information Either – When sending your email, be sure to include your name and valid email address in the “From” and “Reply-To” fields.


  • Monitor Activity – Even if another company is doing email marketing on your behalf, it is still your responsibility (as well as the responsibility of the company who actually sends your emails) to make sure that you are complying with the CAN-SPAM Act laws. Should any laws be violated, you and your external email marketing service may be held legally responsible.

By focusing on these guidelines in any marketing emails that you send, you are not only complying with the law but are also showing your contacts that you care about promoting your company in an accurate and courteous manner. Happy emailing!

For additional information on the guidelines provided here, be sure to visit the Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center website or check out this informative YouTube video from FulcrumTech.

Photo courtesy off Muffet’s photostream

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