How the CAN-SPAM Act Affects Online Marketing

28 Mar 2008

Ryan Allis

Ryan Allis is the CEO and co-founder of iContact, a leading on-demand email marketing service. As CEO, he's managed iContact from its start in July 2003 to its current size with more than 90 employees and 25,000 customers worldwide. In 2005, Ryan was named by BusinessWeek as one of the "Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25." Ryan is also the author book Zero to One Million: How I Built a Company To $1 Million in Sales and How You Can Too, published by McGraw-Hill. As an email marketing expert, Ryan will provide guidance in his blog posts on how to enhance and improve your online marketing campaigns.

Spam is defined as unsolicited mass email to persons with whom you do not have a business relationship or have not requested (confirmed or opted-in to) your mailing. In 2003, Congress passed the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) to establish guidelines for those businesses that send out commercial emails, and to cut down the on volume of spam through the U.S. As ethical email marketers, we follow very strict guidelines for our messages to stay in compliance with anti-spam laws and policies. iContact goes even further than the CAN-SPAM act with our no tolerance anti-spam policy, which you can view in full detail here.

The six main provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act are:

    1. The email message must not have misleading header information.
    1. The message must not have a misleading subject line. In a recent post, I discussed the importance of subject lines in your messages, and how to write your subjects to avoid having your message getting caught in spam filter.
    1. The message must come from a functioning return email address.
    1. Senders must remove all unsubscribe (opt-out) requests within 10 business days. It’s very important that all of your messages include an unsubscribe link. If you use iContact as your email marketing service, we automatically process these opt-out requests for you.
    1. Commercial email must display the physical postal address of the sender.
    1. Any unsolicited emails must clearly identify that it’s an advertising message. The recipient must have the opportunity to decline further emails.

Complying with the CAN-SPAM Act will significantly improve your email deliverability by keeping your emails out of spam filters as much as possible. Having a permission-based email marketing campaign with contacts who have opted-in to your lists allow you to stay CAN-SPAM compliant, and help you build a good rapport with your customers.

Enjoy your weekend, and I will be back soon with more tips for your email marketing campaigns.


Ryan Allis