Emails selling private jets, Lasik eye surgery, financing, professional training, software and more, have worked their way into the inboxes of Tribute Media employees in the past year. Some of this is decent marketing--in the sense that it all applies to us (although the private jets may just be wishful thinking)--but what isn’t decent about these emails is that we did opt-in to receive these messages.
Much of what we all have received is SPAM. I’m not talking the nasty, salty kind of SPAM that you eat. I’m talking the * just as nasty *, unsolicited marketing emails.
Here’s the problem with this: It’s unsolicited, and it’s ILLEGAL.
Many marketers are either blatantly ignoring the law or are ignorant to the fact they are breaking it because they don’t understand the legal requirements for these kinds of emails.
An act that was passed in 2003, the CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) Act, is the Federal Trade Commission’s requirements for commercial messages. It gives recipients the right to unsubscribe or mark as SPAM any email that they deem to be a violation of these set requirements, and it sets severe penalties for those who are in violation.
If you use email for your business, you can’t ignore this law!
This applies to every email, not just bulk email. There are no exceptions for business-to-business emails. So essentially, even if you bought a list (which we definitely discourage you from doing) and sent individual emails to each recipient, you are not exempt from this law. Every single email you send in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, according to the FTC.
Let’s do a little math here. Say you send as few as 100 emails (that’s pretty small in comparison to most bulk email sends), and you are then fined $16,000 per email. That’s a total fine of $1.6 million dollars. I’m pretty sure you aren’t going to want to pay that, nor do you have the resources to.
To ensure you don’t violate this law and suffer the consequences, take a look at the requirements that the FTC has laid out:
For a more detailed description of these requirements, check out the full FTC guidelines here
Now that you’re aware of actual legal requirements, here are some additional pointers to prevent your email recipients from feeling like you're spamming them:
One of the best things you can do to avoid breaking the law laid out by the CAN-SPAM Act is to err on the side of caution. At Tribute Media, we have seen many violations or gray tactics performed by companies to get email addresses. One such example is how you build your contact lists. Avoid:
If someone has not directly opted-in to receiving emails from you, do not send them sales or marketing types of emails. Reaching out to an individual personally for other reasons is fine. However, the moment you step beyond the laws laid out by the CAN-SPAM Act is the moment you lose credibility, valuable contacts, and well, quite possibly some significant cash.
If you’re interested in learning more about email marketing or are in need of some more pointers, check out our handy email marketing guide!