Updated June 2021.
I've written on the many great uses of email marketing, but since you may send emails now or are hesitant because of CAN-SP*M laws, I've created a quick primer on what could be holding back your mailings:
The CAN-SP*M Act of 2005 was meant to drive down dreaded spammers. It may seem like a pain, but complying with rules is much easier now that most email marketing programs (like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc.) ensure you comply, but your subscribers will be much happier. The main aspects of the law are:
- Banning of false or misleading header information. Always identify the person initiating the email, the "to" subscriber's information and routing information, meaning the domain name and email address.
- Subject lines cannot be deceptive. The subject of the email and the content must match up.
- Recipients must have an opt-out option. You must provide a return email or another internet-based response mechanism that allows a recipient to ask you not to send future messages to that address, and you must honor the requests. You must process opt-out requests within 10 days after you send your commercial email. It's illegal to sell or transfer emails of those who choose to not receive yours.
- A commercial email must be identified as an advertisement [if it is indeed an ad] and must in.clude your physical mailing address.
Penalties for violating these laws include fines up to $11,000, but deceptive advertising can also fall under false or misleading advertising. Other fines can be levied for harvesting emails off of websites, especially those that prohibit transferring emails in this manner.
My email is still not reaching my subscribers
Of course, you can do all this and still not get past sp*m filters. I have no more than 6-8% bounceback on my list, and the numbers are improving. I stick to these guidelines:
- Pick a good broadcasting service that will not allow you to send emails without complying to the above rules (my favorite is Mailchimp).
- Try to get "whitelisted."
- Check that you aren't using words like "sp*m," "sp*cial," or "fre*" [of course, they are ok if not used in full, as I just did] anywhere in the email, including the from line.
- Write your subscribers directly and tell them to put the email you send from in their address books, or to set up a rule to specifically let it through. I recently received a text email from a provider saying that my emails have bounced back as sp*m [not spam, it'll bounce back to you!] and to add them to my address list if I want to receive theirs.
- Read your bouncebacks carefully, because some may have changed emails or exceeded limits. Finally, test out your email's content with ContentChecker before sending.
It also doesn't hurt to work with someone who understands the laws and can help you put your best foot forward with content and design. In that case, my contact information is below!