Are Your Emails CAN-SPAM Compliant? Your Business Depends on It

So what the heck is “CAN-SPAM Compliance”? 

You may have heard this term discussed in marketing circles, and it’s often brought up in relation to legal matters. That’s because it represents an important legal checkpoint for the digital age. We can probably agree that spam sucks, but it may improve your spirits to learn that it’s also illegal.

And the punishment for violating is probably worse than you’d guess, too. This is a key topic you don’t want to gloss over, so take this opportunity to read up on the law of the electronic land. Let’s jump right in.

What is CAN-SPAM, and Why Should I Care?

Let’s just quickly preface this section: You should definitely care about CAN-SPAM Compliance. It may sound like something you’d hear from Monty Python, but it’s no joke. CAN-SPAM is short for “CAN-SPAM Act of 2003” – a law that was instituted with an eye toward setting rules of conduct for commercial e-mail messaging and similar promotions. CAN-SPAM provides a person the legal right to request that they no longer receive certain messages. And now that you have a little context, here’s why you ought to care…

Any organization that is found to be in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act may end up saddled with fines of up to $16,000 per message.

That’s right. If you break the law, you don’t owe, say, $16k in total – you owe $16k for every single time you sent a violating message. And here’s another fun fact: Multiple parties can be held responsible, including both the sender and the company being advertised. This is the part where you ask, How can I ensure I’m CAN-Spam Compliant? We’re almost there. 

What Messages Does CAN-SPAM Cover?

Before digging into the rules, let’s talk a little about where the law applies. CAN-SPAM covers all commercial electronic messaging, which means any electronic message intended for commercial advertisement and/or promotion of some commercial service or product. So we’re talking emails, Facebook messages, push notifications, etc. 

It’s a wide-ranging law that covers all the bases, so don’t expect you can find a convenient little loophole by using some non-covered app. If it’s commercial electronic messaging, CAN-SPAM covers it. Period.

Here’s How You Make Sure Your Commercial Messages Are CAN-SPAM Compliant

So to start, compliance isn’t a single-factor deal – there’s no one quick fix you can make that guarantees compliance for all future messaging. That said, the requirements for compliance are thankfully clear and straightforward. Here are the big 7 you absolutely have to hit in order to dodge those hefty fines. (The following items are abbreviated, so visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for a more thorough explanation.)

#1 Don’t use false or misleading header information. 

Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information, including the original domain name and email address, need to be correct. The message is from you, so you can’t pretend otherwise.

#2 Don’t use deceptive subject lines.

Your subject line needs to feature a reasonably accurate description of what’s in the email. For example, no advertising free money in the subject line of an email that’s actually about window washing. Pretty straightforward.

#3 Identify the message as an ad. 

Yup, you have to be honest about this too. There’s a good bit of wiggle room here, but err on the side of caution and make it perfectly clear in the message that it’s an ad.

#4 Tell recipients where you’re located.

You’ll need to include a valid physical postal address in your messages. 

#5 Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future emails from you. 

It may be at odds with your business strategy, but the opt-out is a necessary part of any legal and compliant commercial message. Give recipients the option to unsubscribe.

#6 Honor opt-out requests promptly.

Once they’ve requested to opt out, you’ve got 10 business days to comply. This may not be as “prompt” as some recipients would like, but your main concern is the legal one, and 10 business days is what you’ve got.

#7 Monitor what other parties are doing on your behalf. 

Remember above when we mentioned that multiple parties can be held accountable for commercial messages that break the law? Well, just because you’ve contracted the work out to some other group doesn’t mean you’re not liable. Keep an eye on things and keep your business safe.

As a final word, all email addresses provided by Raek have previously opted-in to receive promotions from our partner network. And only US-based emails participate, which means Raek itself is 100% CAN-SPAM compliant.

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Raek Content Team

We're the folks behind Raek's lead generation software - the simplest new way to follow up with countless new leads. your business is about to boom, and we're thrilled to be a part of that.