Although it can be pretty demanding, the CAN-SPAM Act is perhaps one of the easiest sets of industry regulations for email marketers to satisfy, especially in comparison to more complex acts such as HIPPA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley and SOX. A quick look at all the junk in your inbox is proof that spammers break the laws associated with this act on a daily basis, but it is actually the legitimate companies who stand to lose the most by failing to comply with these regulations.

Regulations and Repercussions

Signed into law by then President George W. Bush, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 covers more than what most of us consider spam or unwanted email. In fact, a message your subscribers actually want to read could technically result in a violation of the act. For example, simply neglecting to include a physical address in your monthly newsletter could see you fined several thousands of dollars. This is one of the many regulations that specifically applies to companies and entrepreneurs promoting a product or service of commercial nature. Luckily, convenient features such as reusable templates, automatic unsubscribe links and email list management tools make it easy to avoid the pitfalls.

Staying Compliant

While there are useful features that can aid the cause, whether or not you meet CAN-SPAM compliance is all up to your email marketing practices. Here are a few simple things you can do to satisfy these regulations:

Don’t Mislead with Header Info or Subject Lines – Header information such as your From name, email address and domain must always be accurate and identify the company or individual sending the message. Your subject line must also be honest and to the point. Slack off in either regard and you could be in violation for blatantly misleading the recipient.

Honor the Opt-out Process – One of the most well known regulations of CAN-SPAM is providing a clear and obvious way for readers to unsubscribe from your list. A related law calls for you to honor all unsubscribe requests within 10 days of the initial request. Keep sending your “former” subscribers email after those 10 days and you could be in big trouble.

Know the Best Practices – The key to staying CAN-SPAM compliant is understanding the regulations and best practices of email marketing. Below are links to some of our internal resources that shed light on both subjects:

1. Email Marketing Best Practices 2011

2. How to Get Better User Feedback

3. How to Build Healthy Email Lists

The fact that email marketing regulations are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Justice and other government agencies shows just how serious CAN-SPAM is. Spammers break the law every day, but quite a few unscrupulous senders have been made examples of through hefty fines and even jail time. Being in violation could cost you in more ways than one, so make it your business to stay in the know and two steps ahead of the law.