May 24, 2010

CAN-SPAM Compliance Part 2 – It Plays a Part to Increase Open Rates

As the media landscape shifts and marketing tools like social media and email blossom, you may want to sharpen your knowledge about CAN-SPAM compliance.  Who needs to comply, why, and how have been addressed.  Now we get to the real meat of keeping spam off the table.

Not complying with the CAN-SPAM Act can be detrimental to businesses who advertise and result in a decrease in deliverability to the inbox. Sophisticated spamming companies are continually trying to beat stricter Internet security measures. The last thing you want is to suffer a lack of trust with your own online customers.

Here are tips to help you stay compliant and boost the chances that your email messages get opened and viewed.

1. Ask for permission to send emails. Send an email asking recipients to opt-in or offer a website form. Express-permission options establish trust with the email recipient. Sending permission-based emails is your best safeguard to avoid CAN-SPAM legal troubles and it will make your emails feel more like correspondence from a reliable associate.

2. Disclose advertisements. Within the content of the email or in the subject line, clearly tell recipients your email is an advertisement for your product or service.

3. Create truthful, personalized subject lines. When your company name is included in the subject line, the recipient recognizes you as a company given permission to email them and it is more likely they will open your email. For example, “(FIRST NAME), Codero Newsletter— Are You CAN-SPAM Compliant?” quickly conveys who is sending the email and what is in the email. You can also personalize your message with your recipients’ first and/or last name on the subject line and to the body of your email message. This immediately establishes rapport and recognition for the recipient.  It also is an important step when sending to multiple recipients in the same organization. Many spam filters will block multiple identical emails sent at or near the same time.

4. Avoid deceptive email headers. “From” and “To” information must be accurate. Sending email addresses and other identifiers in the headers that mislead or conceal your identity is against the law.

5. Sexually explicit emails have separate rules.

6. Provide your address. Give a valid physical address for the sender in the body or footer of the email address to identify your company. It also helps to establish trust and recognition.

7. Ensure opt-out. With the CAN-SPAM Update in 2008, simple opt-out procedures are now required. Provide a functioning opt-out link or unsubscribe within the email body or footer.

8. One-click unsubscribe. Make sure the unsubscribe can be accomplished on a single Internet website page so the recipient never has to log in or click through to other web pages. A recipient should never have to enter more information than their email address to opt-out as well.

9. Honor the opt-out request within 10 business days of receipt of request. No fee can be charged, nor can you ask for more information beyond an email address.

10. Refrain from blasting emails. Emailing an overload of messages at once…or blasting… can alarm recipients. At the same time, you do not want to sporadically send your emails because you risk being interpreted as spam. A consistent, permission-based mail campaign can be a highly-effective touchpoint for both prospects and existing customers when properly created.

For complete details, review The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business and always check with your attorney. If you hire a third-party email company to send out your messages, you may not contract away from your legal responsibility to comply with the CAN-SPAM Compliance Act. Both the business that is promoted in an email message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible. The sender must remain vigilant in verifying all aspects of the act are met.

You can enhance your company’s reputation when you respect the wishes of your subscribers and remember that email is a privilege given to senders by their subscribers.

What are your thoughts about the CAN-SPAM Act? Do you feel it has decreased the amount of spam in your inbox? What other aspects about email marketing would you like to see addressed here? Feel free to post questions or comments below.

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