Spam-blocking and filtering technology has improved, but everyone who
uses emails still deals with spam on one level or another.
The main difference the spam of today and the spam of the past is the fact
that customers increasingly apply the word to unwanted emails, whether
or not those emails are technically spam.
Determining which emails have to
The CAN- SPAM Act of 2003 applies to commercial email messages, which
the law distinguishes from transactional or relationship messages.
In general , the CAN-SPAM Act defines the two separate kinds of email
messages as follows:
- A commercial email – Its basically an email containing an advertisement,
promotion, or content from a business’s website.
- A Transactional or Relationship email- Its basically anything other than a
Collecting email address legally
The CAN-SPAM Act makes certain types of email address collection illegal and
requires permission from your email list subscribers before you send certain
types of content.
Here are some best practices for steering clear of potentially permissionless
- Never purchase an email list from a company that allows you to keep the email
addresses as a data file.
- Never collect email addresses from websites and other online directories.
- Don’t use an email address collection service.
- Don’t borrow an email list from another business and send email to that
business’s email list.
- Don’t rent an email list unless you’re certain that the list rental company’s
practices are legally compliant.
Including required content in your e-
The CAN-SPAM Act requires you to include certain content in your emails.
Include the following in your e-mails to stay CAN-SPAM complaint:
- Provide a way for your subscribers to opt out of receiving future emails.
- Make sure that your email includes your physical address.
- Make sure that your email header information clearly identifies your business
and doesn’t mislead your audience in any way.
- Make sure that your email’s subject line isn’t misleading.
- Make sure that your email clearly states that the email is a solicitation.
- Make sure that your email complies with any applicable guidelines for sexually
Asking for permission
Deciding on a permission level
When formulating your permission strategy, put yourself in the prospective
subscriber’s shoes so that you can assess the level of permission necessary to
meet individual expectations.
Level 1: Implied Permission
Implied permission happens when someone shares her email address with
you in the course of normal business communications. The transaction implies
that the purpose of giving you the email address is to receive emails from you
Level 2: Explicit Permission
Explicit permission happens when you include text or language disclosing how you plan to use the prospective
subscriber’s email address.
Explicit permission doesn’t have to be a lengthy or complicated process, but the benefits of obtaining explicit
permission are worth having a straightforward process.
Here are some examples of explicit permission that you can adapt to your own subscriber situations:
1. Verbal- when someone shares his email address by handing you a business card or dictates an email address
to you during a phone conversation, you could query.
Is it alright if I send you my weekly event invitation e-mail?
2. Written – If a prospective subscriber sends a single email to you and you want to add him to your email list,
you could reply to the email and ask.
By the way, may I add your email address to my list so that you can receive my monthly e-newsletter?
3. Physical – some subscribers physically add their e-mail address to a guest book or sign up via a paper form.
If you have such an arrangement , you could post a professional- looking plaque or sign next to the guest book
or sign up form that states.
Thank you for giving us permission to send you our weekly e-coupons by signing our guest book. We promise
never to share your email address with anyone otside the company without your permission.
Level 3: Confirmed permission
Confirmed permission happens when someone implicitly or explicitly
subscribes to your email list, and you respond to the subscriber with an email
requiring the subscriber to confirm his interest by reading your intended
usage and then clicking a confirmation link.
Inheriting a list
Sometimes, you might find yourself in possession of an email list with
questionable – or even – permission.
This often happens when you obtained your list in one of the following
- You purchased an existing business and inherited an e-mail list without
knowing the source of the email addresses on the list.
- Your list contains email addresses collected over a long time period, and
you can’t identify each type of associated permission.
- You purchased a list or built your list with low permission standards
Follow these steps to determine the permission status of an inherited list
with questionable permission:
1. Sort your list by source
2. Sort your list by date; discard any addresses belonging to customers who
haven’t made a purchase in over a year.
3. Check your list visually; discard any addresses that begin with ambiguous
names or that are part of a distribution list.
4. Sort the rest of your list by category
5. Confirm permission to send email.
You can minimize your spam
complaints over time by doing the
Say thanks- Send a welcome e-mail immediately after the subscriber joins
Send email reminders- insert a paragraph of text at the top of every email
reminding the recipient how you obtained his email address.
Keep your email frequency in line with your email content and your email
list subscribers’ expectations.
Reinforce branding- include your logo and colors on your sign-up form
and make sure that future emails match your brand.