spamE-mail marketing, such as newsletters and promotions to customer lists, is highly effective. That is why most companies engage in some type of e-mail marketing.

Yet, many companies are unfamiliar with the laws that regulate e-mail marketing, such as the CAN SPAM Act. Companies jeopardize their livelihood with every e-mail sent that is not in compliance with CAN SPAM.

I recently received an e-mail from a company’s blog that I used to follow. It told me about a new, featured post, and invited me to visit the blog.

Some time ago, though, I stopped reading this blog. So I wanted to unsubscribe. But when I scrolled to the bottom of the email, there was no unsubscribe feature. Annoyed, I emailed the sender and requested removal instead. I hope they follow my request and are not offended by it.

Failing to include an unsubscribe feature in a commercial e-mail does more than frustrate your recipients, though. It can cost the sender up to $16,000 in fines per e-mail sent.

Yes, you read that right. Violations of the CAN SPAM Act can cost up to $16,000 per violation.

So what do you need to know to comply? Here are the eight most important things you need to know about CAN SPAM Act requirements:

1.  It Applies to All Commercial E-mail: Most people think of spam as “cold” emails. Cold emails (those sent without the express consent of the recipient) are not illegal. But they must comply with CAN SPAM. Perhaps more surprising, though, is that all commercial emails — even those people opt into — must comply with CAN SPAM. A Commercial E-mail is one that advertises or promotes a product or service, or content on a business website.

2.  Header Information Must Not Be Misleading: This includes the “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information located in the e-mail. All of the information must be accurate and identify the business sending the message. Do not mask your header information to improve open rates.

3.  Subject Lines Must Not Be Misleading: Do not try to create catchy subject lines if they will misrepresent the contents of the e-mail.

4. Identify the Message as an Advertisement: Although you can choose where to put this in the message, you must identify it “clearly and conspicuously” as an advertisement.

5.  Provide a Valid Physical Post Address: E-mail marketing materials must contain a valid physical address for the sender. You can use a P.O. Box in the United States.

6.  Provide An Obvious Opt Out Option: This is perhaps the most important feature of the CAN SPAM Act and has several particular requirements:

* Opt-out must be free.

* Opt-out procedure cannot require the recipient to provide any information other than the e-mail address they want to unsubscribe.

* Opt-out procedures cannot require the recipient to do more than send a reply e-mail opting-out, or visit a single webpage on and internet site

7.  Promptly Remove the Requesting Person From Your List: You only have 10 business days to comply with an opt-out request.

8.  You Are Responsible for Your Marketing Company’s Compliance: You cannot contract out of your responsibility to comply with the CAN SPAM Act. Vet your marketing companies for compliance before hiring. Regardless of who send the e-mail on your behalf, the company requesting the marketing is ultimately responsible for the results.

Failing to comply with the CAN SPAM Act can financially cripple your business. Just ask Kobeni Inc., which had to pay $350,000 to the FTC when it sent emails prior to rolling out the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges.

Even if the FTC never sues you, failing to comply with marketing laws like the CAN SPAM Act costs you real money. It makes you look unprofessional and frustrates customers and prospects. (Just because someone unsubscribes from your email list does not mean they are uninterested in doing business with you.)

Complying with CAN SPAM Act isn’t just a legal requirement, it’s good business.

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