Before you get started with email marketing, here are the most important things you need to know. There are more than just best practices when it comes to sending email – there are actual laws that can come with some substantial fines, (up to $16,000!) if you ignore them. These laws are named under the CAN-SPAM Act.
Note: The first rule below isn’t explicitly named in the CAN-SPAM Act, but it is important to remember.
1. Get Permission. There are several reasons why you should (read: must) get permission before you start sending emarketing messages to your contacts, prospects and customers. Beyond the ethical considerations – think about how it makes you feel when you receive an unsolicited email in your inbox.
2. Properly identify yourself. Make sure the “From,” “To,” and “Reply to” in your message accurately identifies the person (you) or business sending the message.
3. Make sure your message matches your subject line. No funny business – make sure that your subject line correctly indicates the contents of your message. Don’t mislead the recipients of your messages.
4. Remember that your message is an ad. You’re sending an advertisement – this must be overtly expressed in your message.
5. Provide your recipients with your physical location. You must provide your audience with a valid physical address in the messages that you send, so they know you’re legitimate.
6. Make it easy to opt out. It is so important that you clearly explain to your recipients how to opt out of receiving future messages from you. Make sure it’s easy enough for the not so tech/internet savvy person to recognize and understand – use a different font or color, so that it stands out from the rest of your message. Provide a direct link to opt-out or a return email address that’s set up to receive requests. The last step is making sure your own spam filter does not block these opt-out requests from getting into your own inbox.
7. Quickly act on opt outs you receive. You must allow your recipients 30 days after they receive your message to opt-out and you are then given 10 days to honor the request. Do not charge a fee, do not ask for them to provide any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make them take multiple steps in order to opt-out.
8. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. If you hire someone to manage your email marketing on your behalf – YOU remain a responsible party. Both you and the company sending, would be liable for any legal implications – so make sure you’re aware of what is being sent.
For more information on this topic, refer to the CAN-SPAM Act or the Act! emarketing Anti-Spam Policy.
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