What You Need to Know
Until the passage of the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM), the relationship between brand advertisers and the consumers they strive to attract, impress and grow loyal relationships with via the email channel lacked definition. Dozens of different state laws and a general lack of best practices exasperated the situation because when consumers had questions or decided that they no longer wanted to receive communications from an advertiser, it wasn't always clear what path to take to modify the relationship. Some state laws and best practices contradicted others and there was general dissatisfaction.
CAN-SPAM remedied the situation from a legal perspective by providing all with one common rule-set that provided both advertisers and consumers with several mandates that prescribed what an advertiser needed to do in response to consumer requests to unsubscribe from email communications as well as a time-frame requirement. The law was later clarified to to further define the "Advertiser." The best brand advertisers then as well as now considered the law their bare minimum responsibility to the consumer — aiming much higher.
The federal Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, or the "CAN-SPAM Act of 2003" was signed by President Bush on December 16, 2003 and went into effect on January 1, 2004. While unsolicited commercial email is still legal under the new Federal law, you must follow five rules to keep your outbound marketing messages above the board. What follows is a brief summary of the transmission rules:
- 1. Prohibition of false or misleading transmission information
- 2. Prohibition of deceptive subject headings
- 3. Inclusion of return address or comparable mechanism in commercial electronic mail
- 4. Prohibition of transmission of commercial electronic email after objection
- 5. Inclusion of identifier, opt-out, and physical address in commercial electronic mail
In 2008, the FTC approved four new rule provisions under the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM or the Act). The provisions are intended to clarify the Act's requirements.
The new rule provisions address four topics:
- 1. An email recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her email address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply email message or visiting a single Internet Web page to opt out of receiving future email from a sender.
- 2. The definition of "sender" was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single email message is responsible for complying with the Act's opt-out requirements.
- 3. A "sender" of commercial email can include an accurately-registered post office box or private mailbox established under United States Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act's requirement that a commercial email display a "valid physical postal address."
- 4. A definition of the term "person" was added to clarify that CAN-SPAM's obligations are not limited to natural persons.
One of CAN-SPAM's more difficult components makes the Advertisers responsible, and ultimately liable, for honoring unsubscribes on any mailing campaigns conducted by third parties on their behalf. Thus, an advertiser's list of users that cannot be emailed, also known as a suppression or opt-out list, is a vital part of email marketing.
UnsubCentral makes it easy for clients to comply with the law, and it can help smart marketers derive even greater value from their marketing campaigns. UnsubCentral gives you the ability to distribute your suppression lists in three clicks, and automatically update those suppression lists, so you can honor unsubscribe requests immediately, allowing UnsubCentral clients to secure revenue with peace of mind.