Direct marketing by email: Brush up on CAN-SPAM compliance

Direct marketers want to get the message out to the largest audience possible. But anti-spam laws (provisions of the federal CAN-SPAM act, and state regulations) carry stiff penalties for marketers who try to make email contact with consumers who haven’t given explicit permission to be sent marketing messages.

For this reason, companies go to great effort to gather opt-ins through websites (their own, and those of related businesses and trade organizations). You’ll see sites offering freebies and chances to win prizes in return for opt-ins.

Fortunately, direct marketing campaigns can take advantage of existing “opt-in” email lists from reputable brokers. Your company can send email to addresses that have not opted-in specifically to hear from you because the addresses on the list have opted in somewhere else, and given permission to receive email from a range of related businesses, including yours.

You can legally send email to a list of these opt-in recipients. However, the best way to stay on the right side of CAN-SPAM is by clearly inviting those recipients to opt-in specifically to receive further communication from you (again, offering freebies, contests, and other incentives) and by clearly displaying, in all your communications to them, a valid mechanism for opting out of receiving any further contact.

Keep in mind that the email message you send, and its mailing procedures, must be CAN-SPAM compliant. CAN-SPAM requirements include:

  • Header information (your “from” address, and routing information, including the original domain name) must be accurate.
  • Subject lines can’t be deceptive. They must relate clearly to the contents of the message.
  • An opt-out mechanism must be included. Provide an easy-to-use, clearly explained opt-out mechanism (usually an “unsubscribe” link) in the body of the email.
  • Your company’s business postal address (not an email address) must appear in the email.

Marigold has extensive experience helping customers comply with CAN-SPAM. We can work with you to select fresh opt-in lists and validate them (including removing any addresses that match with your own opt-out requests). Please contact us for more information.

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