CAN SPAM, other laws, and sending email legally

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Here at Email Marketing, we have our permissions policy to keep your emails landing in inboxes. ISPs (internet service providers) and governments have their own rules and requirements — but don’t worry! It’s not difficult to stay on their good sides.

We’d like to avoid getting into the legalese aspect of email delivery but it’s still important to know that you’re sending responsibly. Here are some guidelines for sending commercial email that should keep you safe:

  • Only send commercial email to people that have consciously agreed to get mass email from you or your business.

    Simply put, this means that anyone you email should have opted-in, and expects to receive your emails, specifically. That means no purchased lists! The more clear you are at the time of opt-in about what you’ll be emailing, the higher your response rate and success will be.
  • Make sure your business is clearly identified as the sender.

    If your contacts signed up with you as Bob’s Top Hats, you oughta be sending them emails as Bob’s Top Hats and not Jason’s Slacks and Spats. Even if you own both businesses, it’s important that your recipients recognize you!
  • Include a valid postal address and internet address on the email that you send so that can both be used for unsubscribing if needed.

    This is actually a legal requirement, but it’s a good idea to make it easy for folks to contact you anyway…
  • Periodically reconfirm people who have been on the list more than 18 months.

    This is especially important if they haven’t read or responded to any emails recently. Old and non-responsive email addresses harm your delivery and can indicate to ISP’s that you’re bad news even if you’re not! We can help though, so contact support and we’ll recommend a few options to keep your list fresh.
  • When people complain or unsubscribe, remove them from the list immediately or as soon as possible after receiving the request.

    Well, this one’s pretty important! Email Marketing removes folks who unsubscribe through your email automatically, but in case the readers email you directly, it’s really easy to pop into your account and suppress them manually

If you’re so inclined, here are the in-depth requirements from the USA, Canada and the EU. Keep in mind that many countries have their own rules too but if you play it safe, you’ll be safe.

CAN-SPAM is the US law passed in 2004 for commercial email only.

CASL is the Canadian Law for a wide array of media used for commercial means and is slightly more strict than CAN-SPAM. It was signed into law in December 2010.

For Europe, each state in the European union has their own flavor of spam law, but here’s the page that summarizes them.

Finally, here’s the page for all the relevant summaries for each EU country.