The CAN-SPAM Act is a federal law that went into effect on January 1, 2004. It is preemptive of all the state laws (currently, 36 states have their own anti-spam laws). I'll do my best to explain how this affects you but remember, I'm not a lawyer. If you're concerned that you might be pushing the envelope, get your lawyer on the phone.
Getting rid of SPAM is a good thing but, it's just like anything else—new law to punish bad guys means that good guys' toes get stepped on a bit. (Why can't I wear my rollerblades in CVS?)
What You're Doing Right, Right Now
Your subscriber base needs to be permission based. This means a pre-existing business relationship OR the person has specifically requested to receive your email. If you have multiple lists, you need to give people a "manage your subscriptions" form on your site.
Ink Free Media ensures client compliance with the current standards (which honestly, contain some pretty hefty penalties) by verifying your email address and including a link for your subscribers to update their subscription preferences or opt-out of future email campaigns.
What You Need to Do in the Future
Subject lines need to be clea--try not to be too clever. Unsubscribe requests that come to you by email need to be honored within 10 days of receipt and all your emails must now contain your physical address and working phone number.
What's the Worst That Could Happen?
The Can-Spam Act spells out different fines, most will worry about the $250 per
. The Act is mostly aimed at true Spammers. However, the Act suggests a bounty of 20% *or more* of fines collected go to the people who turn in offenders who the FCC chooses to go after. (The specifics of how this will be handled are due to be revealed in September 2004.)
One of the most concise sets of email marketing guidelines to date is the "Email Marketing Pledge" by the Email Service Provider Coalition. If you can take the pledge, you have nothing to worry about. (Link is below)
According to DoubleClick, permission-based email continues to be the preferred method of contact from favorite retailers regarding new products, services or promotions. Email is preferred by 59% of consumers.
What do you think?
2004 Claudine M. Jalajas