A practical CAN-SPAM update for 2007
Often thought of as a new medium, e-mail has actually been around since the Internet emerged. Today, the majority of Americans use e-mail every day and it is an extremely popular and effective marketing channel. Spam is still a challenge. Fortunately, industry self-regulation as well as anti-spam technologies, services and laws, including The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, have provided much value to the marketer and the consumer. It is now much easier for top-brand marketers to comply with best practices, earn consumer trust and maximize their e-mail marketing ROI via the e-mail media channel.
Unfortunately, four years later, many marketers still do not know how to comply with CAN-SPAM and a large percentage are self-reportedly not in compliance with the law and best practices.
The simple checklist below is a quick and easy guide that will help you and your counsel determine your compliance with CAN-SPAM.
1. Have you read the CAN-SPAM Act yet?
If not, get up to speed on the act. Here's a link.
2. Do you send commercial or transactional e-mail?
Commercial e-mail must comply with CAN-SPAM. Transactional e-mails do not share the same obligations under CAN-SPAM, but it is advisable to comply as a best practice. If you either make money directly or indirectly from e-mail you send, it is most likely commercial. Either way, you shouldn't take chances.
3. Does every e-mail you send include the CAN-SPAM mandated content below?
a) A from line that identifies any person who is involved with the sending of the e-mail. (CAN-SPAM indicates that the advertiser is the sender when the message is an offer.)
b) A non-deceptive and relevant subject line to the offer in the e-mail
c) A postal address for your company
4. Do your commercial e-mails meet the unsubscribe compliance requirements below?
a) A working unsubscribe link (that works for 30 days after you send the mail)
b) Clear and conspicuous unsubscribe instructions
You'll get bonus points if you are using the list-unsubscribe header detailed in RFC 2369.
c) Are you scrubbing every e-mail address you or your marketing partners send against your suppression list?
e) Do people still receive e-mail from you after 10 business days from their first unsubscribe request? Bonus points if you can honor those unsubscribe requests within at least 3 business days.
5. Do you scrub all outbound e-mail against your CAN-SPAM required suppression list? Every commercial e-mail your company sends should be scrubbed including one-to-one sales messages to help ensure your company is complying with CAN-SPAM.
If you and your counsel can answer all of these questions with confidence then you may be CAN-SPAM compliant with little to worry about.
If you engage in third-party or affiliate marketing, you will also need to answer these questions for on behalf of your marketing partners e-mail programs as well. CAN-SPAM applies to all e-mail sent on your behalf. The Act places the responsibility for compliance squarely on the advertiser in the e-mail.