How to Avoid Business E-mail Fines!

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Do you use e-mail for business? Are you using e-mail services as Microsoft Outlook, AOL, Yahoo, or Gmail to promote a new product or service? Does your company send e-mails without an “Unsubscribe” option and without an address? According to the ‘‘Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003,’’ better known as the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, you could incur penalties for violation. The law was signed by President George W. Bush on December 16, 2003, established the United State’s first national standards for sending of commercial e-mail and required the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce its provisions. Did you know that each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000?

The CAN-SPAM Act applies to all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” For example, an e-mail to former customers advertising a new product – must comply with the law.

Here are a few quick CAN-SPAM requirements to be aware of when sending business-to-business email:

  • Design all e-mails with an “Unsubscribe” option. Give recipients a way to opt out how of receiving future messages from you.
  •  Avoid using false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information must be accurate and identify the person or business sending the message.
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  •  Identify the message as an ad.The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  • Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include a current street address, a post office box, or a private mailbox. 
  • Honor opt-out requests promptly. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. 
  • Be aware of your legal responsibility and the company handling your email marketing. Your company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

As you can see, the standards have changed significantly for sending commercial e-mails. You want to ensure that you are in compliance and avoid hefty penalties, which can be very costly for your business. Chameleon Consulting has partnered with Constant Contact, which has been rated in the E-mail Marketing Service Review as one of the top 10 e-mail marketing services. You can rest at ease and design all of your e-mail messages, newsletters, and campaigns without being non-compliant, so that you can concentrate on growing your business.

About the Author
Cathy C. Smith, Founder & CEO of Chameleon Consulting specializes in managing risk to improve profits by developing regulatory compliant policies and procedures, upgrading systems, automating processes, and training employees. Clients include banks, insurance companies, small businesses, and professional service firms.

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