The New CAN-SPAM Rule Provisions: What’s an E-mail Marketer to Do?
Recently the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finalized several issues that had been left on the table when the CAN-SPAM Act originally took effect on Jan. 1, 2004. The immediate question, of course, is, “How will these new rulings affect my current programs?”
For conscientious, permission-based e-mail marketers, the answer is “very little.” That’s good news, although you should still take the time to carefully review the new rulings with your legal counsel. You can’t be too cautious when it comes to CAN-SPAM compliance.
In the meantime, here are a few things you need to know about the new edicts and advice on how to address them.
Opting Out Must Be a One-Step Process
In the simplest terms, the opt-out process for subscribers must be as easy as possible and cannot, under any circumstances, involve payment—of money, personal information or otherwise. The reason for this is to combat less reputable marketers that would require subscribers to provide personal information in order to opt out, primarily as a means to make money, steal data or simply dissuade them from opting out.
If you currently require subscribers to provide a login or password in order to opt out of e-mail, you will likely be noncompliant. Subscribers must be able to opt out of your e-mail in one step. That means if the link to the unsubscribe application in your e-mail points to a password-protected preference center, subscribers must be able to bypass the preference center in order to opt out. In this case, you may want to consider offering a choice at opt-out between completing the process or changing preferences—after all, sometimes all a subscriber really wants to do is reduce the frequency or change an address. It’s OK to clearly state their options, but it’s an imperative that you not use this as an opportunity to entice or dissuade them.