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Following the Rules of the CAN-SPAM Act

Marketing with email can be very helpful for your business. Whether you’re a local or national business, newsletter email can be a great way to communicate with your current customers as well as bring new ones in. Like marketing guidelines for print, marketing with email draws many guidelines as well.

Spam has become such a problem in email that the United States enacted the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 to help prosecute spammer. Marketing emails and newsletter email can sometimes fall into spam and junk folders, so be sure to follow the rules of email. CAN-SPAM or Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 makes certain email marketing practices illegal. There are different areas of this act that you should understand before initiating an email marketing campaign.

The CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply to transactional or relationship messages, strictly commercial electronic mail messages. A commercial email contains some sort of email marketing or advertisement. It can be a promotion or content from a business site. A transactional or relationship email is anything that doesn’t fall into commercial email: back and forth with a client, an online purchase, etc.

Many email software programs, such as Constant Contact are seen as trusted sources and therefore don’t appear as spam. If your business has a large number of emails to blast an email newsletter out to, it’s wise to consider a program like this. If you’re looking to pursue some sort of acquisition marketing, there are also guidelines to collecting email addresses legally and the CAN-SPAM Act makes certain collections illegal.

A few things to keep in mind:

Don’t collect or buy email addresses that are kept in a data file. These are easily bought and sold.

You can’t get explicit permission from email addressees if you collect addresses from directories or websites, so this isn’t a good idea either.

Email marketing companies may suggest a collection service, but unless each address has confirmed permission, this isn’t a good idea either.