Digital marketing became the new frontier in the late 1990s. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous and careless marketers abused it, which forced regulators to step in.
New laws were passed to fight spam on email, social media and SMS marketing campaign. CAN-SPAM is one of the widest reaching and most enforced. It’s important to understand these laws and comply with them. Here are some tips to stay compliant.
1. Understand Jurisdictions
CAN-SPAM and other spam laws are enforceable if you send an email to anyone in their jurisdiction. It doesn’t matter where you live. You can face civil or criminal penalties.
The U.S. Department of Justice had Vu Hoang Giang extradited
in 2014 for violating CAN-SPAM and other digital communication laws. Others have been extradited as well, so don’t think you are immune to prosecution.
You need to know the spam laws of every country where you have email recipients.
2. Get Permission First!
Never send an unsolicited email or SMS message to promote a business!
This is the biggest CAN-SPAM violation and the one that people most frequently make.
If you are using an email automation tool, then it will require you to get the users to confirm their email and willingness to receive messages to be added to your marketing list. It isn’t a good idea to send messages without an automated email marketing tool. If you don’t, then it can be difficult to prove that a recipient consented to join your list, even if they did in fact give their permission.
3. Always Have Your Organization’s Name in Your Email Headers
CAN-SPAM requires clear transparency. If you are sending emails to recipients, you must always make it clear who you are.
You need to have your organization’s name in your headers. It’s a good idea to have your name in the footer as well.
4. Always Have an Opt-Out Option
You must provide an option for people to opt-out of your email and SMS marketing lists at any time. If you use an email marketing platform like Hubspot or Aweber, they have an opt-out link at the bottom of every email by default.
5. Include a Physical Address
If you are marketing to customers online, it can be easy to forge the need for a physical address. However, it is necessary to provide it to your recipients, regardless of where they are located. Here is an excerpt from the FTC website
if you need more clarification on what constitutes a valid physical address.
“Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.”
6. CAN-SPAM Applies to SMS Messages Including Website Domains
You have probably heard about the benefits of SMS marketing, but you don’t want to get started without knowing the laws first!
Spam laws related to mobile marketing are more complicated. The biggest thing that you need to know is that the CAN-SPAM law only affects SMS messages that include a website domain.
If it does not include a website domain, then you don’t have to worry about compliance. There is one key difference between promoting through SMS and email: you must send commercial messages through a short-code.
Other restrictions still apply. You must make sure the user has an option to opt-out and you cannot send unsolicited messages.
Follow CAN-SPAM Requirements to a “T”
You never want to violate the CAN-SPAM Act. If you do, you could face criminal or civil penalties with the FTC. For every separate violation, you face a possible $16,000 fine, which can add up very quickly if you have a scalable marketing practice.
Criminal penalties for violating CAN-SPAM are even worse. Last year, a spammer was sentenced to 2 years in prison
for sending 27 million unsolicited Facebook spam messages.
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