Why You Need To Know Your SPAM rules

No-one likes spam, especially the Government! Don't be caught out by SPAM laws

No-one likes spam, especially the Government! Don’t be caught out by SPAM laws

There is a problem with email marketing, and that is SPAM. The illicit and often annoying issue with email marketing can mean that your customers are turned away from email messages even if the problem is not you.

SPAM comes in many different forms. It can be an email message that was not requested, i.e. the recipient was added to a marketing list without their permission, or an email with a misleading subject line compared to their subject matter, or too many emails being sent.

Many of these SPAM activities are actually against the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. In other countries, there are similar laws which generally contain the same rules. The laws do make it a little more difficult for you to send commercial emails, but it should give reassurance to customers and offers them a way to complain legitimately about companies who might send irrelevant or dangerous spam.

If you do break the law, there can be stiff fines. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 states that if you don’t follow the rules you can be fined up to $16,000 per violation per individual email. In the United Kingdom, the fine is smaller but still significant. Therefore, if you want the financial safety of your business, it’s best to follow the rules.

So what are the ten most important rules of these email marketing laws?

1. Signing Up

A prospect can subscribe to your email marketing list either by giving you verbal or written consent. On a website, this should include ticking a checkbox on a web form. It is also best practice to use the double opt-in sign-up system to ensure those signing up online actually know what they are signing up for.

2. Header Information

Recipients have the right to know who the email is from when it arrives in their inbox. Therefore, you can’t put in misleading or false information in the header. You should include information such as organisation domain name and email address as they appear in your business. It is best practice to have the domain name and sender as an actual person within the organisation.

3. Subject Lines

A good subject line can entice your audience into opening your email and looking at the offer you have inside. But the subject line has to reflect what the email is about. For instance, you can’t say they are getting something for free when you aren’t offering that at all.

4. Identifying Purpose

Customers have become wary of the tactics used by email marketers and therefore have developed a knowledge of when emails are ads. Marketers have since changed tactics to make it less obvious to get customers to re-engage with emails. While this has been effective, it is also against the CAN-SPAM laws. You need to ensure that your customers know that your message is an advert.

5. Location

Recipients need to know where your business is located. This is to demonstrate that you are a real company. To help build trust, ensure that the address of your organisation on the email is the same as the one on Google+.

6. Opting Out

It’s sad to see any subscriber leave your list, but you must give them the option which can either be done via an email message or a link within the email. The latter of these is the best option as it can mean that the process is automatic whereas the former creates more work for you.

7. Processing Opt-Out Requests

Every opt-out request you have from your subscribers needs to be processed quickly, within ten business days. You also need to honour requests from recipients up to 30 days after you’ve sent your email marketing message.

8. Third Party Involvement

If you have a digital marketing company run your email marketing campaigns, you must take responsibility for their actions as well. That is why it is so important that you get references for their work and check they are complying with email marketing laws.

9. Definition

These regulations only apply to commercial content; i.e. when you are promoting a product or service. Any emails that are sent for transactional or relationship reasons (i.e. invoices, warranty information, etc.) don’t have to follow the same rules. However, if you start adding commercial information to the emails, they are liable to follow the laws.

10. Forwarding

Sometimes it can be a great way to spread the word of your brand by asking current subscribers to forward your email to a friend. In these circumstances, you don’t need to worry about the CAN-SPAM laws unless you offer an incentive to send that email like a discount code.


It is crucial that you adhere to the CAN-SPAM Act. Failure to follow these rules can place your business at financial risk as well as annoy your potential customers. So ensure you know the rules and that you are following them.

Do you know your CAN-SPAM Act? Have you broken any of the rules above?

Let us know in the comments below.

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