Compliance for the average Joe pt. 2: Email regulations

Welcome back to the second installment of our business compliance series! If you tuned in to part 1 covering data privacy laws on the web you’re nearly halfway there to being generally compliant for everything between GPDR to CAN-SPAM laws. Speaking of which, CAN-SPAM laws are exactly what brings us to part 2: email marketing regulations.

For email marketers, in particular, there are additional email rules that must be followed for each and every commercial email distributed. These guidelines set the rules for commercial email, curbing spam and allowing recipients to opt out at their own discretion. Email rules are mainly targeted at spammers but even legitimate business can find themselves caught up in violations and staring down a large fine. For those reasons, here are the seven major email marketing rules you must implement before pressing “send” on that next email blast.

1. Avoid using deceptive sender info – The “From” and “Reply-To” fields, originating domain name and email address must all accurately identify the person or business sending the email. As a general tenant of email marketing, you should never deceive recipients into opening an email using false sender information.

2. Stop using deceptive subject lines. Your subject line must accurately reflect the content of the email. Not only are click-bait subject lines annoying, your audience is less likely to trust the contents of future emails.

3. Only email recipients who have opted in. Email users do not like surprises, so ensure you have either implied or express permission from individuals before adding them to your email contact lists. Otherwise, you run the risk of being reported as spam and having a hefty fine sent your way.

4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Don’t make them guess. A business’ postal address must be included in your email footer. This can be a business’ current street address, a registered post office box or a commercially registered private mailbox. Either way, recipients should have some way to reach you if they need something.

5. Tell recipients how to opt out of future emails. Emails must also include some sort of “unsubscribe” notice. Create an email preferences landing page to allow recipients to opt out of certain types of messages or opt down in terms of email frequency. Either way, an unsubscribe option must be included, allowing recipients to stop all future commercial messages from you.

6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism offered must be able to process opt-out requests quickly and appropriately. And by quickly, we mean in no more than 10 business days after receiving a recipient’s opt out request.

7. Ensure all brand partners are also buying in. Although it might make your life easier, businesses can’t contract away their legal responsibility to comply with email marketing and anti-spam regulations. In fact, both your company and any vendors you use to send out emails that don’t comply with these rules may be held legally responsible. So make sure you have the right people working on your behalf. 

Although the above may seem like an intimidating checklist, if you're following email best practices and already utilize a reputable email marketing tool (like MailChimp, HubSpot, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, etc.) as part of your standard business practices, then you're likely already following a lot of these rules. If you're still unsure about where your company lands on email compliance, drop us a line. We've coordinated countless email programs for our clients and can help you, too!