Even after 43 years, email marketing is still an effective and efficient digital marketing channel.
When you begin an email marketing campaign, you’re probably focused on performance metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and return on investment. But there’s another essential element you need to consider when marketing by email – are you doing it legally?
What is Email Compliance?
One reason email marketing still stands the test of time is that there are clear guidelines for marketers to follow to remain compliant.
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 provides regulations for U.S. email marketers to follow when they send marketing emails. Following these rules ensures your emails are compliant. Not complying can damage your company’s reputation and cost you quite a lot – the current CAN-SPAM fines for non-compliant emails is up to $43,792 per email (up from the original $10,000).
Email Compliance Refresher
While the law has been reviewed and slightly updated over the years, the main elements are still the same. It’s essential to review the CAN-SPAM regulations occasionally to ensure your email campaigns remain compliant.
Here is a quick summary of the 7 critical components you should always keep in mind:
1. Use Honest Header Information
Use accurate and honest header and routing information – and clearly identify the sender of the email. These are your “To” and “From” sections. This is required, so make sure you are honest.
2. Provide Clear Subject Lines
Choose subject lines that are consistent with the content of your email and don’t mislead your recipients. When you use deception to drive your open rate, you’re likely to lose their business.
3. Include Opt-Out Option
CAN-SPAM is clear about this requirement. You must provide an easy way for recipients to unsubscribe or opt-out of receiving any future emails from you.
The law also requires that opt-out requests be honored within 10 business days of being received. Even though you have a 10-day window, it’s best to have a system that instantly and automatically processes the unsubscribe request.
4. Don’t Buy Email Lists
Technically, it is legal to buy email lists – but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Here’s why we don’t recommend it – you have to get specific consent from the people on the list before you can legally use it. The recipients may have given permission to be on the list you bought, but they must also give it to you. And if some people have already opted-out, it’s illegal to reach out to them. Buying email lists is just not a risk worth taking.
5. Include Your Location
CAN-SPAM also requires you to post your company's physical mailing address – even if it's a P.O. box. This information usually goes at the bottom of your email.
6. Monitor Marketing Partners
Always remember that what others do on your behalf is your responsibility. If another company or individual conducts email marketing for you, they aren’t legally responsible for any mistakes – you are! So, monitor them closely and make sure they are always in compliance with the law.
7. Always Opt-In
While the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t require you to opt-in your leads or subscribers, other anti-spam laws do. Not only do these laws require you to get permission to email someone, but they are also extremely strict when it comes to recipients’ rights.
So, even if you don’t have to – always get permission before emailing someone. This will keep you safe from breaking any rules. And it also shows your customers that you respect and honor them. It’s easy to obtain consent using opt-in boxes on your website or asking for it in your first email outreach.
With a 3,800% ROI as a standard benchmark, email marketing is still a high-performing marketing channel! Just make sure your email program continues to be compliant with laws like CAN-SPAM to ensure your emails are both legal and welcome.
You can read more about the effectiveness of email marketing here.
Regulations change frequently, so it can be challenging to keep track. If you need help creating a successful (and legal) email marketing campaign, contact us today. We’d love to help you out!
*Disclaimer – the information in this article is not intended as legal advice.