Most businesses run several email marketing campaigns every day. Whether it's a weekly newsletter or a monthly sales promotion, emails are an excellent way to communicate with your audience. After all, they’ve opted in to receive your emails, right?
While many email marketers are familiar with setting up, formatting, and scheduling promotional emails, some are unaware of the federal compliance guidelines designed to protect the consumer.
The Controlling the Assault of Unsolicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, or the CAN-SPAM Act, was enacted to protect consumers from unsolicited emails from brands and businesses, whether they are bulk spam or commercial emails.
While the CAN-SPAM Act contains numerous requirements for email marketers to follow, the Federal Trade Commission has identified seven key sections that can be used as a checklist to ensure that your business's emails and newsletters do not violate the law.
At UniOne, we strictly adhere to these requirements and use this checklist. And we make new clients aware of the rules regularly.
While third-party email services such as MailChimp or iContact simplify compliance, some small and large businesses occasionally miss the mark. So this article is beneficial for email marketing professionals, both new and experienced.
How to Comply With Can-Spam?
A great guide to avoiding your emails getting into spam is in our article.
1. Use an Honest Email Header
This means that the "from," "reply to," and routing information sections of your emails’ envelope must clearly and accurately identify your business.
2. Be Truthful in Your Subject Line
This one is fairly straightforward. Avoid being deceptive, misleading, or inaccurate in your subject lines to entice recipients to open your email. The best practices for an honest yet effective subject line include keeping it brief, providing value, and instilling a sense of urgency.
3. Acknowledge Emails Sent for Advertising Purposes
You are not required to include the word "ad" in the subject line or to include an image in the email to indicate that what the recipient is about to open is an advertisement. However, the CAN-SPAM Act requires that each promotional email indicates that it is an ad. This can be as straightforward as adding text to the bottom of the email that reads, "This ad was sent by (your business name here)."
4. Include Your Location
Each email must include your current, valid physical business address. If your physical business location does not receive mail, you can use a P.O. box.
5. Make It Simple to Opt-Out
It's never pleasant to receive an opt-out request, you might even be tempted to hide that option. However, The CAN-SPAM Act requires that every email must include an unsubscribe link. Besides providing an opt-out option, it must be simple to locate, and your opt-out form must be accessible and easy to complete.
Think of it this way: both a 27-year-old software developer and a 72-year-old grandmother should be able to unsubscribe from your email list easily.
6. Automize the Opt-Out Period
Usually unsubscribe requests are processed automatically, but sometimes they take up to 24 to 48 hours. While this extended period may annoy some consumers, but as long as the person who opted out is removed from your list within ten business days, you've complied with the CAN-SPAM Act. However, once a consumer's email address is removed from the list, you can no longer use, transfer, or sell it.
7. Review Third-party Email Apps
If you use a third party to create and manage your business' emails, you are still ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. If they are not submitting them for approval, request to see each email before it's sent. Verify that it complies with all the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.
This regulation is meant to protect consumers, and adhering to its policies also establishes a transparent relationship between your business and your email subscribers.
Additionally, the more authentic your email appears, the less likely your emails will be flagged as spam or junk. This is ultimately beneficial, as accounts with an excessive number of spam complaints may be temporarily or permanently disabled.
Anti-Spam and Data Protection Laws Worldwide
While the CAN-SPAM act is unique to the United States, similar anti-spam and data protection legislation exists worldwide, especially in Canada and Europe. If a company in the United States does business internationally, even if it is based in another country, it must comply with international law or risk being held liable.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Europe's version of the CAN-SPAM Act, was enacted in 2018 to overhaul how businesses protect and handle data. This data protection law, hailed as a progressive approach to handling personal data, applies to all European Union member states.
GDPR requires that you:
- Collect data in a legal, fair, and transparent manner: data is collected for specific, explicit, and legitimate purposes and cannot be processed further.
- Collect personal information only when it is adequate, relevant, and necessary.
- Personal data should be accurate and up-to-date, and you should take reasonable steps to delete or correct inaccurate data.
- Don't store personal data for longer than necessary for the original purpose. You may keep data for a longer time with the sole purpose of archiving in the public interest, statistics, or for scientific/historical research.
- You must process data in a way that ensures appropriate security and protection against unauthorized or unlawful processing, accidental data loss, destruction, or damage.
Anti-Spam Legislation in Canada
Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), widely regarded as the world's strongest set of data protection regulations, establishes clear requirements for all commercial email messages. CASL, like other laws, requires businesses to identify themselves and give customers the option to opt-out of certain communications.
The requirement that people "opt-in" to receive messages from brands is what sets CASL apart. In other words, brands can only send emails to people who have given their permission to receive them. CASL distinguishes between the following two types of consent.
A person's explicit verbal or written consent to receive emails from a company is known as express consent. This consent does not have an expiration date; it is valid until the person withdraws their consent.
Certain actions, such as buying a product or requesting information about a service, can imply consent to receive marketing emails. Implied consent, unlike express consent, can be revoked. For a purchase, implied consent is valid for two years, and for an inquiry, it is valid for six months.
The recipient can renew their consent by purchasing another product or inquiring about your service once more. Your company's responsibility is to keep track of all permissions obtained from subscribers, including when and where they were obtained. The email recipient has the right to sue the sender if they're violating CASL.
All major CASL requirements are listed below:
- A business must provide identification information such as its name, postal address, phone number or email address.
- The sender can send emails only to people who have given express or implied consent to receive emails.
- Consents must be documented, including the date, manner, and location.
- As soon as a contact's consent expires, you must remove them from mailing lists.
- Unsubscribe options must be included in all corporate email messages, and unsubscribe requests must be honored within ten business days.
How to Properly Comply With Can-Spam Act When Sending via Unione
UniOne does not deliver Unsolicited Bulk Email or Unsolicited Commercial Email, also known as SPAM, as defined by the Spamhaus.
All mail sent from or using UniOne must be CAN-SPAM, CASL, and GDPR compliant. In addition, you agree to be aware of and comply with all local policies, laws, and regulations.
UniOne requires each account to have a completed account profile and also requires an unsubscribe link in every email.
Here’s a short refresher:
- Don't send emails to anyone who has not explicitly agreed to receive mail from you
- Don't send emails to a purchased list of addresses
- Don't use false information in your profile, such as an incorrect originating address
- Avoid using an unauthorized domain name
- Keep your email subject line honest
- Add a functioning unsubscribe option to your email
How Do We Know if You Send Spam?
Until a team member approves your account, we will review every email sent through our system. We keep track of which accounts are sending to which IPs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our systems are linked to major ISP spam reporting services. If someone marks your email as spam, we'll be notified that you did not have permission to send it. We allow a reasonable number of complaints (0.5% of total recipients). That's 50 complaints per 10,000 recipients. Otherwise, we may suspend your account, in such cases you must contact our support team.
Spam Email Filtering
UniOne provides automatic spam blocking per the company's anti-spam policy. When using the UniOne transactional email service, you may experience instances where the system blocks the delivery of your emails, preventing them from reaching their intended recipient. In some cases the service may block sending from your account to specific domains.
Our Spam Blocking Principle
Suppose the recipient's server (e.g., Gmail, hotmail.com, etc.) rejects a user's email sent from one UniOne server (SMTP) 10 times. In that case, the system will block sending messages from the current SMTP server and then continue sending them using other servers.
If five UniOne servers are blocked for a given domain, the system restricts sending to that domain and no longer attempts to send emails from them.
What About Cold Emails?
Now that we've gone over the core anti-spam laws, let's discuss the concept of "cold-emailing". It's a common misconception that sending cold emails is entirely illegal. However, you should be safe from fines and headaches if you make sure to follow each of the laws listed above when sending out emails. Cold emails can lead to new sales opportunities and active audience members for your company.
So, How Do You Know the Difference Between a Cold Email and Spam?
A successful cold email will include the following:
- Deliberate and personalized contact with a single person.
- Communicate helpful information rather than relying solely on automated content.
- Comply with all CAN-SPAM Act requirements and provide an opt-out or unsubscribe option.
The last thing you want to worry about is potential fines from anti-spam and data protection laws like the CAN-SPAM Act, GDPR, and CASL.
The bright side is that compliance allows marketers and sales reps to focus on content creation and outreach, which leads to higher response and engagement rates.
Your team will be able to reach people who are truly interested in your company's mission if they follow these guidelines. You can increase your chances of making a sale or gaining a devoted follower of your brand by focusing on the value created by trusted relationships with your recipients.