Email Marketing Campaigns – Know The Rules

So you want to do some advertising for your small business through email do you? Maybe you went out and bought yourself a list somewhere, and hopefully it’s not full of crap emails that are worthless and unused. Email campaigns can be a great idea for small business owners for the obvious reason that it does not cost much to carry out.  But of course if you are going to develop an email campaign it would be wise to follow the rules set forth by the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.  I’m not going to bore you with the  who, what, where, and why of it but basically the set up what’s called the CAN-SPAM Act with guidelines to follow to prevent us dang sales and marketing people from getting out of control.

What are the rules you ask?  Why just below I have bold posted the 7 main requirements under the CAN-SPAM Act as stated by the FTC and  a little explanation to go with. Now of course as you know I do not work for the FTC nor am I a lawyer so if you have questions and want to get into the nitty gritty of it feel free to contact one of them. Here we go:

1. Don’t use false or misleading header information

Don’t pretend to be something or someone your not to get people to open and read your email.  You can’t make up a fake name and company and send emails to people trying to get them to buy your product or service.

2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines

 Pretty straightforward, whatever you have in the body of the message should reflect in the subject line. Don’t cry wolf for attention or have some off the wall attention seeking subject.

3. Identify the message as an ad

Somewhere within your message you have to state it is an advertisement.  For example, if you have an “advertorial” that looks pretty much identical to a newspaper article but is really just a clever sales pitch, make sure somewhere it says ADVERTISEMENT.

4. Tell recipients where you’re located

Don’t forget your company’s mailing address in it (it is allowed to be a PO Box)

5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you

Basically you are going to want to put an email address in there to point to for people who want to NEVER receive your emails again.

6. Honor opt-out requests promptly

The opt out must be available for 30 days after you send your message  free of charge and no hassling for extra info. And you must follow through with removing them without 10 business days.  Soooo after 10 business days make sure you never send those people any advertising emails. Oh and that means you can’t go sell their email info to a mailing list either.

7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf

Just like most other things in life, ignorance is not a valid excuse. Just because you hired a big shot marketing firm or an employee to handle these emails campaigns and they break these rules, you are still responsible for their actions. keep your eye on things and make sure you have a proper system in line to prevent any mistakes.

Now of course this is the bare bones of the rules and plain laymen explanation of what they are about.  If you’d like to know more about the CAN-SPAM Act and see some examples  jump on over using the link below.


– Michael Ackendorf