A Small Step against SPAMkind

January 2004 introduced a unified anti-spam legislation in the United States. Bill S.877 more affectionately known as the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) was signed in December of 2003 in an effort to curb the rate of unsolicited emails. The Act acknowledges many of the inconveniences that unsolicited email poses to business and the private sector. It has been praised for setting out important guidelines, yet criticized for placing the responsibility to opt-out on the recipient.

As responsible marketers using email as a medium, this act affects us all. UpOnline clients will recognize that aside from some minor adjustments, their campaigns fit well within the guidelines set forth by the CAN-SPAM Act.

What do the new rules require of you as a responsible eMarketer?

“From” information and “subject lines” cannot be false or misleading. This is a good practice to begin with. Recipients of your emails are often your best leads. Whether you are trying to get an accurate read regarding the interest in your product or service, attempting to generate sales leads or simply keep clients/readers/fans in the loop, it is always wise to accurately let people know what they are opening and where it’s coming from. It is also essential in the relationship that you are building with your recipients to be straightforward and trustworthy…it just makes good business sense.

Email transmissions need a return email address where comments, complaints, praise or any form of response for that matter can be addressed. This address must be active for at least 30 days from the sending of the email. Using any responsible eMarketing firm will require you to post a return address, but if your “trying it on your own” make sure to create an info@ or comments@ that you accept replies from your eMarketing emails. You could always use your own email address, but it is often to your benefit to have a separate account even if just for organizational purposes. For simplicity, UpOnline has a mechanism to handle abuse complaints, as well as offering recipients other avenues to protect their rights.

Unsolicited commercial electronic mail must include a means to opt-out, as well as a physical address. There must be an identifiable and legitimate means for a recipient to announce that they no longer wish to receive email communication from you. Many consumers have a familiar fear of clicking on an opt-out link, as unethical spam distributors have been known to simply use the click thru to validate a live email address. This fear has to be dispelled by responsible eMarketers to rebuild a trust with their target markets.

The physical address requirement is interesting. The sender of the unsolicited email has to include a physical address in the email (P.O. boxes seem to be a grey area). UpOnline requires that all campaigns sent through our system have a physical address. Email and the internet can make a sender seem ambiguous and distant. When sending responsible and quality messages it only makes sense that you would want to be seen as an entity that exists outside of the web. You’ll notice that UpOnline mail outs also include a phone number, and why not, we love to hear from you, good or bad.

A recipient who has “expressed objection” cannot be solicited again by the sender. Once someone has opted out, the sender and all senders acting on their behalf have 10 days to honour the request. UpOnline’s list management separates unsubscribers immediately, removing the arduent task of sifting through a list to remove unsubscribers manually. This is especially important if lists are used in cross-promotions. List members must not have opted out from any of the participants in the promotion; this can get extremely complicated with larger lists and multiple parties are involved.

These are the areas that are of immediately importance, but there are still details that will take some time to sort out. To read the actual act in it entirety, simply search for CANSPAM through any search engine. Countless article and interpretations are circulating, but at least there is now a concrete start to cleaning up inboxes in The United States.

If you’re just starting out or exploring new territory, it’s always wise to learn the laws of the land. eMarketing is no exception to this rule. Take the time to read the CANSPAM ACT as well as PIPEDA and you’ll have most of North America covered. If you’re still unclear, there are several respectable eMarketing firm that can help shed some light, I know we here at UpOnline would be happy to hear from you…

Speak to you soon,

The crew at UpOnline





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