4 Tips That Will Get You Out of Email Jail
Few things scare people more than a run in with the law, and email marketers have had their fair share of terror over the last few years. Just when everyone got over Y2K, along came the ironically named CAN-SPAM, a law written so marketers can't spam. Most recently there's CASL, which imposes strict regulations and penalties for offending parties — regardless of their intention.
With the world becoming more wary of the infringement of privacy and privileged information, these kinds of laws are set to become more and more popular as time goes on. That's why it's important to know how to protect your email marketing program as well as yourself with these four simple tips that will help ensure the law won't be knocking down your door any time soon:
1. State your name, business, intent and location. CAN-SPAM is quite clear on this one in particular. In every email you send, you have to clearly identify your name, business, why you're emailing them, and how you can be located and contacted. Despite kindergartners with iPhones becoming prevalent, email subscribers of 2014 weren't born yesterday. You're not going to fool anyone if you decide to hide your intent and information.
Not only will this tip help ward off the law, but also readers of your email are more likely to form a relationship with your brand if they feel they can trust you. If we've learned anything from those Cosmo quizzes, it's that trust is built on honesty.
2. Make the unsubscribe option clear. Most people don't just have "bad days"; chances are they can't unsubscribe from an email or SMS list they subscribed to in their teens (that's what I like to think anyway).
CASL, CAN-SPAM and most likely all future anti-spam legislation will have this requirement — the unsubscribe option must be easily accessible and clear in every email you send.
There's nothing more annoying than getting an email every 10 minutes from a company that holds no relevance in your life. People who can't find the unsubscribe button do easier things, like reporting the email as spam. This will lead to other headaches for email marketers like blacklists and ISP blocks.
3. Take opt-outs seriously. So an unwilling email reader has finally found the unsubscribe option and gets a message to confirm his decision. However, five minutes later he gets a message from the very company he thought he unsubscribed from. This is the beginning of a public safety hazard. Be sure to remove anyone who wants to opt out of your mailing list.
All serious anti-spam legislation makes it very clear that anyone who sends email to a person who has unsubscribed is liable to fines or jail time — neither are good for your pursuit of happiness!
People who have chosen to unsubscribe aren't ever going to buy your product or service, so not only are you ruining someone's day, you're wasting your money by sending to them.
4. Use double opt-ins. CASL specifically requires subscribers’ explicit consent. Translated from legalese, this means that you have to obtain direct permission from the person you're emailing — and that person only.
An excellent way to obtain explicit consent is by using a double opt-in process. In other words, once they've clicked the subscribe button, they'll get an automated message asking them to verify that they indeed want to be added to your mailing list. That automated confirmation email should include a summary of what it entails to be a subscriber of your brand's email program. Only after they've clicked that link will they be added to the company's mailing list.
In addition to this, send a re-confirmation email to older addresses that haven't responded to your mail in a while to ensure they still wish to be on your list. This way you're able to clean unresponsive email addresses from your list and gain explicit consent from others.
While there are some minor additional provisions in different anti-spam laws, following the above tips and email best practices will keep you out of jail and your email marketing program on a path to success.
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