For those new to email marketing (or even those who have been doing it for a while!) there may be some rules and regulations that aren’t obvious.
While you may be eager to get started, there are some legal considerations to be aware of.
The CAN-SPAM Act was signed into law in 2003. The act outlined how marketers may contact consumers, what information they must include in their mailings, and how consumer requests for personal information are handled.
The European Union recently ratified the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which includes some requirements for email marketers. This is important to know if you are targeting foreign consumers.
Lets walk you through the essentials of all relevant laws so your email marketing practices are compliant.
Honest Headers and Subject Lines
CAN-SPAM requires marketers to use precise header data. The “To,” “From,” domain name, and email address must all show the sender’s real name. No posing as a celebrity or fictional character!
Similarly, your subject lines must reflect the message’s content. You can’t say you’re giving away a free car in the subject line and then forget about it in the body.
Declare It an Ad
Not every email from your company to customers is an advertisement. Some businesses send out a newsletter with only educational content to their subscribers. Others need to contact customers to confirm orders or follow up on customer service requests.
If you’re emailing your list with commercial content, which the CAN-SPAM Act defines as “[content that] advertises or promotes a commercial product or service, including content on a commercial website,” you must state that the email is an advertisement.
Your company’s address (street or PO Box) must be in the email’s footer. It must also be a valid business address. If you recently moved, don’t forget to update your email’s footer!
Allow Unsubscribes and Respond Quickly
The CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR both have strict rules about how you handle unsubscribe requests.
First, all subscribers must be able to unsubscribe. Every email you send must include opt-out messaging and clearly outline how to unsubscribe from your list. Also, your opt-out process can’t involve carrier pigeons or a scavenger hunt; it must be simple.
If someone asks to be removed from your mailing list, remove them immediately. CAN-SPAM requires you to respond within ten business days.
For GDPR compliance, you must also keep proof of initial consent. This proof of consent should cover who, when, and how. “Joe Smith consented to be contacted by us by signing up for our mailing list on our website on June 5, 2019.” You must also state the consent messaging they received. You must then keep track of all of this information, including any revocations of consent.
Know What Others Are Doing for You
If you hire a marketer to do your email campaigns, make sure they know the laws. If you break any of the rules, you’ll be fined. And both the marketer and your company may be held liable for any legal blunders.
Email marketing is a powerful tool for reaching potential customers. But you must be aware of the rules of the medium. As long as you follow these simple rules, you can benefit from this fantastic marketing channel.