What is CAN-SPAM Law?

This might be a little dry & boring. Well, boring, but good, because I’m about to save you thousands in government fines.

$40,654, to be exact.

“Wait. What!? Why?”

Well, it all starts with a little organization called the Federal Trade Commission, or, the FTC. They have worked to keep businesses compliant via the wild west of email when they enacted the CAN-SPAM Act. CAN-SPAM is an acronym for “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003.” Let’s break it down and go over why this matters. “Assault”: Ever look at your spam folder? Ever look at how many you get in a day? Well, in the days before spam was filtered out and a law was in place, you’d get all of those sent relentlessly by the minute if you happened to visit the wrong site or activate the wrong cookie. That’s “assault” to a T. “NON-Solicited”: This is what I’ve been bugging you about ALL ALONG. Imagine you didn’t voluntarily hop aboard an email list and you suddenly got emails you didn’t want. Yeah, you’d be pissed. This law is in place to tell businesses if these emails are not solicited, they are gonna go straight to the SPAM folder! “Pornography”: Okay. “Marketing”: This is where you fall under, I imagine. Marketing encompasses any email that is coming from a commercial place for commercial purposes. Think of it this way: Even though a blogger may not make money via direct transaction and it’s free for you to read, they are onboarding you for commercial purposes because they need to keep your viewership around, because they need the sponsorship dollars, I assume. Therefore, commercial encompasses anyone sending you email because they need your engagement for more than simply sending you a photo of their cat. According to the FTC, “following the law isn’t complicated.” And if you don’t follow the law, you’re gonna be paying that $40,654 fine.

Yeah. So, don’t break the law because you’ll pay out the wazoo. But since it “isn’t complicated,” they also lay out the following ways you can make sure you’re doing it. Without further adieu, courtesy of the FTC, their 7 requirements for following CAN-SPAM: 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.

Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve 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. You can’t charge a fee, require 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.

I CANNOT stress how important this is. It’s kind of crazy how important this. CAN-SPAM separates the jerks from the nice people. It keeps businesses accountable, like I said before. Also, it really helps keep your list healthy, engaged, and trusting you. If you need more information on CAN-SPAM law, all you need to do is check out the FTC’s site on CAN-SPAM: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business Enjoy.

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