Posted on April 28, 2015
CAN-SPAM Act: Are Your Emails Compliant?
Do you use email in your business? The CAN-SPAM Act establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. Source: Federal Trade Commission
Besides worrying about running a digital marketing campaign, running your gym or small business, and providing customer support, here’s another wrench to add to your plate. If you use email to contact your subscribers/members/patrons, then you must be CAN-SPAM compliant to remain legitimate.
The CAN-SPAM Act(Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003) was established by the federal government after mass amounts of spam were detected, and labeled as an epidemic. Millions of inboxes were receiving unsolicited email messages, and there was no law to stop anyone from sending out a blast email to any email addresses they could find.
How do I know if I need to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act? Answer the following questions…
- Are your emails promoting a commercial website?
- Are you selling products?
- Are you selling memberships?
- Are you selling services?
- Is your relationship to the recipient limited to your business? i.e. advertising to a lead, promoting a new product, etc.
If you answered YES to any of the questions above, then you must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. One important distinction to make is that transactional messages(an email with details of a transaction, or an update to an existing transaction) are only restricted from containing false, or misleading information. However in our experience, we highly recommend you remain compliant even in this case. The reason? You will most likely be including a link to your website in the email – and even if you don’t, do you really want to take the risk of being sued for sending unsolicited mail? It really does happen.
Follow these steps to ensure your emails are CAN-SPAM compliant:
- Identify yourself properly. Your “from,” “to,” “reply-to,” and sending information, including the domain name and email address, must identify the person or business who sent the message. The WHOIS information on your domain should also contain accurate information – avoid using a privacy enabled domain!
- Don’t use misleading subject lines. It’s ok to be creative, but don’t use subject lines that have nothing to do with the content of your email. It has to be relevant!
- Identify promotional content. You must tell your recipient if the message contains an advertisement. You can accomplish this in many ways, and there is no one-way solution.
- Include a physical address. You must include a physical address in your emails. You can definitely use a separate PO Box if you need to, just remember to keep it consistent.
- Provide an opt-out. You must include a way to allow your recipients to unsubscribe from your email. You can use a link to a webpage for opt-out, provide an email address where they can email an unsubscribe request, or you can ask for snail-mail unsubscribe requests to have it in writing. It’s up to you, all that matters is that the instructions are clear, and easily understandable.
- Process unsubscribe requests in a timely fashion. You must process all unsubscribe requests within 10 days. Usually, when using an email service provider, the process is instant. But if you receive unsubscribe requests to your business email, or in writing, you want to get those records updated in your system ASAP! Once the recipient is unsubscribed, you cannot sell, or transfer them to new list.
- Be on the lookout for compliance issues. The best way to stay compliant is to always be on the lookout for issues. Whether you send the emails yourself, or have a service to do it for you, you need to keep an eye on what is being sent on behalf of your business. Legal costs can add up quickly if you fail to comply.
Read the CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business for the full details of the CAN-SPAM Act. If you have any questions, or need help to make your emails CAN-SPAM compliant, leave a comment or email us at [email protected]! We would be glad to provide assistance. Happy emailing!
Gym Autopilot is a multi-channel marketing automation agency devoted to easing the burden of a fast paced technological world. We automate gym owners' web operations to improve new member acquisition, member retention rates, and communication. Our mission is simple: "create, execute, and deliver the digital strategy."