CAN-SPAM compliance is not only a suggestion but is required by law. As of 2003, all commercial email marketers must comply with CAN-SPAM which was passed by US Congress. What exactly is CAN-SPAM? CAN-SPAM is a law that was created and passed in 2003 to set rules for commercial electronic messages and provide recipients with the means to either opt-in or opt-out of getting these messages. The penalty of violating CAN-SPAM are fines up to $16,000 per violation. Multiple parties can be held responsible for the messages.
Why was Can-Spam created? Can-Spam was created as a response to the consumer complaints of the late 1990s/early 00s when marketers realized the power of the internet to reach the masses. There were few to no regulations that governed their behaviors and usage of recipient information. The internet became the mythical wild west due to lack of oversight and regulations on email marketers. It was only a matter of time before government legislation would be passed to reign in the illegal behavior and outright abuses of power on the part of marketers, namely misleading recipients about the content of messages and mass sending of marketing emails without opt-in. Some of these mass mailings included computer viruses and malware.
How do I ensure all of my marketing email messages meet Can-Spam compliance? Send emails to recipients who have opted-in to get your messages. Do not use false or misleading information in emails to recipients after they have opted-in. The subject lines must be accurate to the nature of the email so not to mislead the recipient, and the subject line must reflect the nature of the email. Emails that are advertisements must be identified as advertisements. Recipients must be informed of where your office or business is located, with this information in the footer of the email. Including a way to opt-out of future messages must be provided via a clickable link in the footer. All messages sent by third parties on your behalf must be monitored.
Following Can-Spam will help improve the odds of making it into recipients' email inboxes. Other factors can contribute to making it to the inbox also such as spam traps, bounce rates, sender rejections and message filtering by recipients, and ISP or ESPs based on spam policy or mail server spam filters. That being said, Can-Spam compliance can help improve deliverability and sending reputation by lowering the instances of your messages being flagged as spam.
What is considered illegal under Can-Spam? The following are illegal under Can-Spam: Using a hijacked computer to send out spam; creating false accounts to send spam; using IP protocol addresses to create spam networks; using an altered header to send mass spam; deliberately obfuscating the origin of an email, making it hard for recipients to trace the origin of it this includes routing it through third parties; altering the return path to falsify the origins of an email.
Doing any of those activities is considered cyber fraud under Can-Spam. In 2006, a man named Christopher William Smith was charged under Can-Spam for a cyber attack on AOL using a network of hijacked AOL addresses for fraudulent purposes. He was ordered to pay 5.3 million dollars in damages by a judge for mass sending fraudulent. The best way to avoid penalties to avoid being like Mr.Smith. Compliance with Can-Spam is the first step to ensure the satisfaction of your current and future recipients. Operating email marketing in ethical and legal manner optimizes revenue and protects the interests of clients and recipients alike.