Have you ever handed out a business card at a networking event only to receive unsolicited email newsletters or marketing campaign offers? Maybe the same has occurred through connections you’ve made on Linked-In. If this has happened to you you’re not alone. Many small business owners who received your business card or connected with you on Linked-In believe that is it is an acceptable practice to send these types of solicitations to you because of the manner in which they received your email address. What they don’t realize is that in most cases they are irritating the very people they are trying to get their business messages across to. They could also be breaking the law, thanks to the CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act of 2003. This law dictates how and when a business can send emails to current and prospective customers
Most businesses don’t believe they are sending SPAM email when they are providing what they consider valuable information regarding their business to someone who provided them with their email address. According to the CAN-SPAM Act any email you didn’t ask to receive from a business you don’t know, offering products or services you don’t want is considered SPAM. This means just because an email address was received off of a business card or from a Linked-In contact a request to be put on a mailing list was not authorized.
Many believe that small businesses don’t fall under the coverage of the CAN-SPAM Act. That is a huge misnomer and could be costly to any small business that violates the act. Fines can be as high as $16,000 per each email violation.
If you’re a small business that sends out emails to customers or prospective customers make sure your business is CAN-SPAM compliant. Here are 7 steps that you can take to ensure that you are:
Only Send Emails to Those Who Requested Them
Only use email addresses obtained through an opt in form on your website or a sign-in list that stated the email address would be used for email list purposes. You can also use email addresses of your current customers. Being told verbally that you can send emails can sometimes be misconstrued. The person that gave you authorization may have a short memory and forget that they provided you with their email address. This could result in them considering your emails SPAM.
Be Honest With Your Subject Line
Make sure that your subject line contains wording that describes exactly what you are proving within the email.
Have Your Business Address Somewhere on your Email
You must provide a way for the email reader to reach you by registered postal mail. The address provided can be either a physical address or a post office box address.
Provide the Ability to Easily Opt Out of Receiving Future Emails
Provide any easy to locate link, anywhere within your email, where the recipient can click on it and opt out of receiving future email.
Honor Opt Out Requests Quickly
The CAN-SPAM Act states that you have 10 business days to comply with an opt out request. The quicker the request is honored the belter.
Be Responsible if Others Send Out Emails on Your Behalf
Bottom line you are still responsible for any email sent out on your business’s behalf. If you are using an outside group to help market your business make sure they comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
Don’t Buy or Sell Email Lists
Sending emails is not the same as sending a direct mail piece. Where it’s OK to purchase a list to solicit prospective customers through direct mail you can’t do the same for an email list.
When sending out emails to customers and prospective customers use common sense and apply the above seven tips.
Disclaimer: The above information is provided as informational guidance to business owners but in no way should be construed as legal advice. Business owners should always seek legal advice should they have questions regarding potential compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.
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