CAN-SPAM Compliance: What to Know When Sending Email

If your company engages in email marketing, you are probably familiar with CAN-SPAM compliance. But what does that mean? Well, besides sharing names with the famous and often polarizing breakfast staple, CAN-SPAM is a compliance measure that was signed into law in 2003 to help combat the wave of non-solicited emails crushing Americans’ inboxes during the early stages of the Internet.

Could you imagine dealing with a mountain of junk emails, feeding your Tamagotchi, and watering your Chia Pet? Times were tough at the turn of the millennium!

However, even in this modern world, and despite being put into motion two decades ago, CAN-SPAM is still an undeniably important compliance measure that must be taken seriously. With email marketing as popular as ever, marketing compliance should always be accounted for and top-of-mind when any business is crafting an outbound email strategy.

This blog will cover why you should care about CAN-SPAM, what happens when you don’t, how you can be compliant, and tools that can help.

Why CAN-SPAM Compliance Matters

CAN-SPAM didn’t come into existence just because a few bureaucrats had itchy law-signing fingers! It’s meant to provide guidelines and a consumer-friendly framework for advertisers to work within. A healthy and effective email marketing plan should always revolve around CAN-SPAM compliance. 

Below are a few ways that non-compliance can potentially harm your organization.

Brand Reputation

CAN-SPAM has been around for years. By now, most can spot when an email falls outside the standards of the act. Would you want potential customers to see one of your marketing emails and immediately consider you a spammer? By adhering to CAN-SPAM, marketing emails from your brand will have a more professional appearance and are far more likely to lead to a positive action than a non-compliant email.

Email Effectiveness

Similar to brand reputation, email effectiveness can be greatly influenced by distributing CAN-SPAM compliance marketing. Many times, passing the initial eye test can be the difference between an immediate deletion/”mark as spam” click or a sale. 

Even before a potential customer sees your email, that email must first make it through the inbox spam filter. If your company has a history of and reputation for sending messages that don’t fall within compliance, there is a much greater chance you will be flagged by inbox spam filters, rendering your outbound marketing useless and ineffective.                                                                                           

Monetary Penalties

Perhaps most importantly, organizations found non-compliant with CAN-SPAM can face stiff monetary penalties. In fact, according to the FTC site, “each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM act is subject to penalties of up to $46,517.” If the spamming is egregious enough, there’s a chance it could even lead to criminal charges as well.

Most companies send thousands of marketing emails out to their contact lists. Even if the actual penalty handed down was a fraction of the maximum, that number could add up extremely quickly, resulting in large and costly fines.

How to Ensure CAN-SPAM Compliance

Despite these costly penalties for non-compliance, there is some good news! With sleeve-rolling and elbow grease on the part of the sender/originating organization, complying with CAN-SPAM is definitely doable.

Here is a quick list of some of the main CAN-SPAM compliance requirements and what they mean:

  • Don’t use false or misleading sender information - Do not modify any of the sender or recipient information in the email. It must represent the sender accurately

  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines - The subject line cannot be written in a way as to trick or deceive the recipient

  • Identify the message as an ad - It must be disclosed somewhere within the email that the message is an advertisement

  • Tell recipients where you’re located - Include a valid physical postal address somewhere within the email

  • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future emails from you - The email must include a clear way and/or clear instructions on how to opt out of receiving further email communications from your organization. The opt-out process must also be simple. Consumers should not be required to provide any information other than their email address to complete a successful opt-out

  • Honor opt-out requests promptly - Opt-out requests must be honored within 10 days of receipt. Companies may not sell or transfer the information of a person who has opted out of communications

  • Monitor what others are doing on your behalf - Even if your company hires another company to perform your email marketing, you are still responsible for the messaging that they are putting out on your behalf

CAN-SPAM Compliance Tools

Many different types of resources are available to companies who want to comply with CAN-SPAM. One helpful tool to utilize when crafting an initial email would be to employ a CAN-SPAM checklist, such as this one. Simply go down each line item and check if each is being deployed within your email. There are also different forms of online checkers available that can be utilized, and many different email providers and marketing automation platforms offer CAN-SPAM compliance tools.

Check Off CAN-SPAM Compliance with our CAN-SPAM compliance checklist.

But what about when an email is crafted for use with a third-party affiliate? Oftentimes, through affiliate marketing and email messaging, content can become jumbled as it makes its way through a virtual game of telephone. In some cases, this may turn your beautiful, meticulously crafted marketing email into a compliance nightmare.

Monitor for CAN-SPAM Compliance with ComplianceMonitor

How can you effectively monitor what affiliates are putting out on your behalf? Yes, it’s important to trust their process, but verification can be equally important. LashBack’s ComplianceMonitor gives you the tools to do just that. 

Through LashBack’s extensive database of tens of millions of real emails living in consumer inboxes, ComplianceMonitor can provide crucial visibility into what is being sent to prospective customers and alert admins on any potential compliance risk their company may face. It’s the ultimate tool to verify CAN-SPAM regulatory compliance downstream and keep your company safe from the financial and reputation blowback that a non-compliant event can incur.

ComplianceMonitor is also fully customizable. For example, if your brand strictly forbids certain phrases or keywords in marketing correspondence, ComplianceMonitor allows you to monitor emails containing this forbidden verbiage.

Interested in learning more about ComplianceMonitor? Request a demo here!

Related Posts

A unique, time-tested solution that addresses a critical need for advertisers, agencies, and networks.

Request demo

Business Woman