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CAN-SPAM - It’s Not Just An International Issue

It’s the stuff of nightmares for outbound sales people: SPAM.

No matter how hard you try to follow best practices to ensure that your emails reach their intended audience, you’re always going to deal with differing spam regulations from one place to the next.

That’s the thing about regulations - they tend to be slippery.

If email is your primary method of contacting potential customers, you do need to be aware of the various restrictions and regulations on email and spam.

sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.”

How do you know if you’re CAN-SPAM compliant?

What is the primary purpose of your message?

Answering this question is the first step towards compliance. You need to know what your main objective is before you can start aligning your outreach with the regulations governing the industry.

There are three different types of information that your email could contain, namely Commercial, Transactional/Relationship, or Other content.

Commercial: Any content that directly advertises your product or service falls under the CAN-SPAM Act. This includes all content published on your website, pitch emails, newsletters, and outgoing messages that advocate your company.

Transactional/Relationship: This type of content helps facilitate an ongoing transaction or something that was already agreed upon. Because these emails don’t attempt to sell anything new, they don’t fall under the CAN-SPAM Act.

Other: The last type of content, is often personal or entirely unrelated to your business. Any outgoing content that falls into this category means that you’re (generally) safe from being impacted by the CAN-SPAM Act.

5 Tips for Complying with the CAN-SPAM Act

Wherever you’re based, you need to spend some time reading and understanding the CAN-SPAM guidelines. These need to be followed diligently to ensure that you don’t face any potential fines or lawsuits due to a poorly phrased or overly “salesy” email.

  • You need to make sure that disclose who you are in your signature. The information in your signature also needs to include your physical postal address. This can be your street address or a private mailbox. As long as the address is registered with a commercial receiving agency, you should be fine. You also need to clearly mention why you’re contacting the person you’re emailing. Complete transparency is what you need to aim for.

  • The receiver needs to be able to opt-out of the email list or unsubscribe from your emails. This needs to be completely clear - a cloaked unsubscribe link won’t do you any favors. You may find it worth your while to give the recipient options to choose either to receive targeted, topic-specific emails or to opt out of all emails completely.

  • You must honor the opt-out request within 10 days or less. This is non-negotiable. The opt-out you offer to the recipient must last for at least 30 days after your email is sent.

  • Never sell or transfer the recipient’s email address to another list after they have opted out. You may only transfer the addresses to a company who is officially hired to help you become CAN-SPAM compliant.

Penalties for violating CAN-SPAM can be a hefty $16,000 or sometimes more. Making sure your emailing practices are up to scratch can save you a ton of your hard-earned money in the long run.

The main aim of the CAN-SPAM Act is there to protect individuals from receiving repeated, spammy content. If you’re practicing good email etiquette, you’ll be safe.

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