Are Your Emails Legal? 7 Dos and Don'ts
Email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter (McKinsey & Company, 2014). But you can’t just send marketing emails out willy-nilly. There are laws in place through the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM Act that could get you in serious trouble if you aren’t careful (like $16,000-per-email kind of trouble). Here’s the quick guide:
- DON’T use deceptive header information. The email has to say whom it’s really from – that includes the domain name and email address.
- DON’T use deceptive subject lines. Your subject line has to be directly related to the email’s content.
- DO mention that the message is an ad. But you have a lot of freedom in how you say it.
- DO tell recipients your location. The message must include your business’s valid postal address (a P.O. box works, too).
- DO tell recipients how to opt out of future emails. Include clear and easy “unsubscribe” instructions.
- DO honor opt-out requests within 10 business days. And don’t make the recipient do anything extra to unsubscribe (other than sending a reply email or visiting a single webpage).
- DO monitor emails others send on your behalf. Your company is legally responsible for the actions of any company you hire to do your email marketing.
- Research foreign email laws, too. If sending to email addresses in another country, check its email marketing laws.
- Get permission before adding email addresses to your database. Like by including a “Yes, I want to receive emails” checkbox on the entry form you are using to collect email addresses.
- Never purchase email addresses. This is not the same as buying postal addresses; sending people emails without permission could get you banished to the spam folder.
- Update your database regularly. “Scrub” your list to delete dead email addresses on a regular basis (this will improve your open rates).
Confused? Read more: