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I think this is a topic on the back of many people’s minds: Can I be sued for sending email marketing?

Initially when the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was passed, there were a lot of questions about it. But, after a decade, people have forgotten the substance of the law and are unaware of its requirements.

Basically, if you send commercial emails you must be in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. According to the law, you are are permitted to send one email to any properly obtained email address – but if that person opts out from that email, you must comply with the request within 10 days.

I know our email inboxes are jam-packed.

Approximately 71% of it is spam-related, according to a study in 2012. And, the spam originates from China and India.

So can you be sued for sending email marketing?

The CAN-SPAM Act eliminates the private right to sue, but you could be sued by a government authority or an internet service provider for sending emails. And, you could be sued for up to $16,000 for just one email. Even churches have been sued for sending marketing emails.

In the Sandals Resort International Ltd. v. Google, Inc. case in 2011, someone sent a personal email to various people about their poor experience at a Sandals Resort and what they felt the Sandals people were doing unethically. The Sandals corporation sued this person and subpoenaed Gmail to release all the person’s information. But, luckily the courts upheld this person’s 1st Amendment rights because Sandals could not prove damage from this email.

So, use common sense when sending emails. Think twice about what you’re saying in an email before you hit the “send” button. Why? Because it could come back to haunt you.

Salespeople are guilty of sending emails just introducing themselves, not realizing those could be considered commercial emails.

Here’s what you need to be CAN-SPAM compliant:

  • Include a working opt-out link
  • Include your company’s physical address
  • Ensure the “subject” line is appropriate
  • Ensure your “from” line is friendly and accurate
  • If the content’s considered an advertisement, disclose this fact in the body of the email
  • Remove all opt outs from your list within ten business days

Remember, email’s still the No. 1 cost and results-effective way to communicate with the masses. So, don’t fall into a trap. Know the law. Not only should you be in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act, but you should always apply good marketing practices when you send emails.

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Beth Kereszturi

Beth is our VP of Digital Marketing Strategy who, besides drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, helps clients generate more business. Whether they’ve partnered with Proximity Marketing for a decade or just joined the family, Beth helps clients achieve success and achieve measurable results.

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