CAN-SPAM Act Compliance

If you use emails in your business, the CAN-SPAM Act is of great interest to you. It sets the rules which you need to follow while sending emails and also specifies the rights of those receiving your emails. If you violate any of the regulations then you might face severe penalties.

Contrary to what one may think, CAN-SPAM doesn’t just apply to bulk emails. Under the banner it covers all commercial correspondences. Specifically, the law defines its scope as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service, including email that promotes content on commercial websites”. No exception or distinguishing clauses are added for B2B or B2C emails. One law covers everything.

A single CAN-SPAM violation can subject you to penalties in excess of $20,000. Non-compliance is costly specially if you are a small business. Compliance however, isn’t that complicated. Let us take a look at the main requirements of CAN-SPAM.

  1. To not use misleading header information:
    Properties of your email such as the “From”, “To”, “Reply-To” addresses, origin domain and other information should clearly identify the individual/organization sending the message.
  2. To not use deceptive subject lines:
    Deception anywhere is not taken lightly by the law. You subject line should not be deceptive and give lucid information about the contents of the email.
  3. To identify the message as an advertisement:
    Unambiguous disclosure that the message is an intentional advertisement. As a sender, you are never supposed to hide this information.
  4. To tell the recipients of your geographical location:
    You must clearly state your physical address. This could be the address of your company office or the address of a P.O Box that you may have registered with the Postal service complying with the regulations.
  5. To give the recipients the option of opting out from future communication from you:
    Adding an unsubscribe link in your emails is considered to be a very respectable act in the industry. The law requires you to clearly specify such options to your readers using which they can easily opt-out of your mailing lists. There are many ways you can include this functionality in our email. Some provide and unsubscribe URL, some have menu forms, an Unsubscribe button can be considered as the most elegant one.
  6. To immediately honor opt-out requests:
    Just providing an opt-out mechanism is not the end of the story. The law also requires you to promptly respond to such requests which your reader initiates. You are supposed to respond to such requests within 10 business days of receiving it. You cannot charge a fee and you cannot request the recipient to give you any personally identifiable information other than the email.
  7. To monitor how your email is being used:
    If you’ve hired an agency to use your company’s email addresses to send out emails and advertisements, the CAN-SPAM act requires you to monitor the doings of that party so as to ensure that CAN-SPAM regulations are strictly followed.

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