May 10, 2010

CAN-SPAM Compliance… Just Good Business.

Convenience and cost-effectiveness are driving email campaigns to the top of the marketing toolbox these days. The reason, in part, is due to the economy, but also because more businesses are capitalizing on the rise in popularity of mobile devises and social networking sites. These digital marketing avenues also present new breeding grounds for unsolicited commercial email (spam).

In 2010, more than ever, it pays to take a fresh look at CAN-SPAM compliance…that’s short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003.

CAN-SPAM compliance is an opt-out law. It established the first national standards for sending commercial email. Did you know one of the biggest champions of controlling unsolicited commercial emails was John McCain? In 2003, McCain was chairing the Senate Commerce Committee at the time the bill was passed.

The law was enacted in 2004, and amended in July of 2008. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also adopted rules in March of 2005 to prohibit sending unwanted commercial email messages to wireless devices without prior permission.

It’s not surprising, with all the laws out there, marketers continue to have questions regarding compliance. In fact, many businesses are still so fearful of violating the CAN-SPAM Act they simply do not use email marketing.

At Codero, we view the laws as another way we can let our clients know we are a transparent company with principals and integrity. Most of the CAN-SPAM requirements are simply sensible business practices that show respect for your customers. By adhering to compliance regulations, you can establish a meaningful interaction with your own existing and prospective customers using easily identifiable emails in your marketing mix.

Who needs to comply? Any business or individual in the U.S. who uses email for marketing, including for newsletters delivered by email, must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. Even if you are not a spammer, you need to ensure you are compliant if you are sending out commercial messages. Transactional or relationship emails used to email receipts, invoices, etc. are exempt.

Why comply? Spam complaints not only affect your ability to deliver email to your intended recipient, it also affects your hosting provider. We encourage our clients to establish trust and recognition with their own customers and to abide by the CAN-SPAM Act.

Codero remains vigilant in helping clients understand the laws, but it is up to you to adhere to the federal regulations.  In order to protect clients on the same IP Block from feeling the residual effects from spam activity, our TOS contains a $50 charge assessment for each blacklisted IP address as a deterrent.

Bottom line – we can help you prevent emails from being considered spam and keep servers off server blacklists  through advisement. If your email server has been blacklisted, some emails you send may not be delivered. Too many spam complaints damage the reputation of the IP address from which you are sending email and reduce the delivery rate to the core of your list.

Codero sends out warning notifications when a complaint about spam is received and works with clients to resolve the issue.  If you do not comply with the warning or respond to it in two weeks, your service can be suspended or terminated for unsolicited emails coming from your server.

It is advisable to check with your attorney before you spend the money on your email marketing campaign to further ensure your online communications are not viewed as spam.

What happens if you do not comply? The legislation provides the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with the ability to enforce the law. Each individual violation of CAN-SPAM regulations is subject to fines of $16,000. Financial consequences aside, sending spammy email messages reflects poorly on your business.

How do you remain compliant? The rules are in place to ensure the recipients can find you if they do not want to receive your emails or simply want to contact you.

Abiding by the law is not as difficult as you might imagine. Chances are, if you are a responsible business, you are already performing most requirements that meet CAN-SPAM compliance. In my next post, I’ll review 10 ways to help you stay compliant and ensure your email messages get opened and viewed.

If you would like to share your experience with CAN-SPAM compliance, please post it as a comment below.

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  • Bob

    It was Very helpful post indeed, Thank you.
    So what happens to those outside of US?

    • Maureen Griffith

      Thank you—this is a great question since Codero serves customers around the world. Some countries have already outlawed spam while others are still debating such laws. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission enforces the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act on U.S. soil. The bill applies both to spammers and those who hire spammers, so a person in the U.S. who hires an offshore spammer to send unlawful emails would be fully liable under the Can-Spam Act. For more information on this topic I would recommend checking this link out: