Hi, I'm Colleen Robbins, an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission.
Like many smart and successful marketers, you may use email to promote your company's products or services. Whether you're emailing potential customers—or letting your current customers know about your latest offer, the CAN-SPAM Act establishes guidelines you must follow.
For example, the law describes specific information each email must provide—including a way for recipients to unsubscribe—and it spells out penalties for violations.
If you use email to pitch your products or services, it's up to you to comply with the law. How? It's not as complicated as you might think. Here are seven things you need to know to make sure your emails comply with the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act:
You can't use false or misleading information. The FROM, TO, and REPLY TO fields—as well as the domain name and email address—must be accurate. And they must identify your business, or the person sending the email.
It's illegal to use a subject line that would mislead people about the contents or subject matter of the message—so make sure your subject line accurately reflects what's in the email.
You must include a disclosure that the email is an advertisement. And like all good disclosures, it must be clear and conspicuous. That means people should be able to find it and understand what it means.
The email must include your address. This can be your current street address, a P.O. box, or a private mailbox you've registered.
The email has to tell people how to opt out of getting more emails from you. Make this information easy to find and understand—and give recipients an email address or a website they can use to opt out or unsubscribe.
When someone asks to be removed from your email list, you must delete their name and address within 10 business days. Once they unsubscribe, you can't share their email address with other marketers.
Finally, even if you hire someone to handle your email marketing, it's up to you to make sure your email messages comply with the law.
If you don't your business and the company you hire each could face penalties of up to $16,000 per violation.
You know, failing to comply with CAN-SPAM can be a costly proposition, but complying with the law—well, it doesn't have to be.
To learn more about how to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, visit the Business Center at business.ftc.gov.