Perhaps you are new to email marketing and are excited about sending out your first email. Maybe you have been in the business for a while and are excited about a brand new email campaign you are about to launch. No matter how experienced you are, it is easy to make CAN-SPAM mistakes when you are eager and in a rush. Of course that’s never a good feeling, but if you violate a CAN-SPAM requirement in your rush, that could end up being a very costly mistake for you or your business. Given the high stakes, it’s always important to have a solid understanding of the CAN-SPAM law – and of common violations that marketers often make. Keeping these CAN-SPAM mistakes in mind will ensure that your email marketing campaigns are compliant, even when you’re short on time.
Please note that this blog post is meant to provide you with general information on the CAN-SPAM law, and does not constitute legal advice. Our email marketing experts at US Data Corporation are available to assist you if you need help. However, we are not attorneys, so please contact a licensed lawyer for legal advice.
- Not Having Permission
You must have permission from every recipient you plan on sending emails to. Permission means that these people have opted-in and requested emails from you. When you create a email list, you have the option to choose how you want your subscriber to opt-in to your emails: single opt-in or double opt-in. Single opt-in is when a new email subscriber signs up and provides their email address on your website, and then receives your emails. Double opt-in is when a new email subscriber signs up on your website and then is sent an email asking them to click a verification link. When the link is clicked, the person will receive emails. If that was confusing, single opt-in basically means a person only needs to provide you with their email address in order for you to send them emails. Double opt-in means that the person giving you the email needs to do a second step of confirming through an email.
- They Can’t Unsubscribe
Did you know it is illegal to not give your recipients a way to easily unsubscribe from your messages? Make sure your emails have an easily accessible way for your recipients to unsubscribe and opt-out of future emails from you. Oh, and don’t try to be sneaky by making people jump through hoops in order to get off your email list – overly-complicated opt-out processes are covered by CAN-SPAM laws as well.
- Not Honoring Opt-Out Requests
Maybe you have made unsubscribing from your emails accessible and easy for your recipients… but are you actually taking those people out of your email list? This is one of the biggest CAN-SPAM mistakes. You need to make sure they are opted-out of your emails to be considered CAN-SPAM compliant. You do not have to do it the same day they request to be opted-out, but you do need to do it within 10 business days of their request, according to the CAN-SPAM Act. Unfortunately, this step is often forgotten by marketers, so if your opt-out requests aren’t automated, make sure you pay extra attention to this step. One of the best ways to piss off a prospect is by sending them emails after they have unsubscribed – and this oversight could pose a risk to your company as well.
- Unclear Subject Line
It is very important for your email to have clear subject line that describes exactly what the email is about. CAN-SPAM laws expressly forbid the classic bait-and-switch tactic of writing an enticing subject line, only to bombard the reader with something completely unrelated when they open your email. People don’t like to feel tricked, and pulling this move could be very damaging to your company’s reputation, as prospects are unlikely to have positive feelings about you after this has happened. Just don’t do it. Make sure your subject line always represents the email’s content clearly and truthfully – even the most well-intentioned but vague subject lines can have a similar effect.
- Forgetting to Include a Physical Address
The CAN-SPAM law requires you to disclose a valid postal address for your business on your email. A valid postal address can be your current street address, a private mailbox, or a P.O. Box you have registered with. Always double-check your emails before sending to make sure your address is included.
The above 5 CAN-SPAM mistakes may seem obvious, but they can be confusing if you do not fully understand how the CAN-SPAM laws work or are new to the email marketing industry. You can be fined up to $16,000 per email if you are caught breaking the CAN-SPAM law. As long as you pay attention to the CAN-SPAM laws and double-check the emails you are preparing to send out, you will avoid breaking the law and annoying your recipients.