We hooked up with the SEO Experts over at eBiz By Design, to discuss a topic on many marketers’ minds; whether SEO service providers can be sued for email marketing. When the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 came into effect, there were a lot of questions about it. Ten years later, most have forgotten the substance of the act, and are unaware of what compliance with CAN-SPAM means.
Whenever you send commercial emails, they must be in compliance the CAN-SPAM act. This means you can send one email to an address you’ve acquired through proper means. If that person opts out from the email, you need to comply with that request within ten days.
While the CAN-SPAM Act precludes the private right to sue, internet marketers can still be sued by a government authority or an internet service provider for sending email classified as SPAM. Fines can be as high as $16,000 for a single email. No business is exempt from this – even churches have been sued in the past.
In a famous 2011 case, the Sandals Resort International Ltd. sued someone for sending a personal email to a number of people detailing their poor experience at the resort. In the email, they accused Sandals management of acting unethically. The Sandals corporation wasn’t successful in their case, as the courts luckily held up the person’s 1st Amendment rights. Sandals wasn’t able to prove damage from this email.
It’s important to use common sense when sending emails. Think carefully about what’s in your email before you hit the send button. Emails can circulate the internet for a long time and come back to haunt you later. Even if you’re a salesperson sending an email to a client just to say hello, you need to make sure there’s nothing included in the email that could be construed as spam.
Care must be taken when sending emails to ensure they comply with the CAN-SPAM Act’s guidelines. Follow the tips below to ensure your emails meet these regulations:
– Make sure to include an opt-out link in your emails
– Your email must include your business or company’s physical address.
– Your subject line should be appropriate to the content
– If your content could be considered an advertisement, make sure this is clear in the body of the email
– Make sure your “from” line is accurate and friendly
– Remove any emails on your opt out list withing ten business days
Email is still the most effective and cost-efficient methods of reaching the public. Internet marketers shouldn’t be afraid of being sued for emails that are considerate, relevant, and otherwise compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act. If you always applying good marketing practices in your email marketing campaign, there should be no reason to be concerned about being sued.
The easiest way for SEO services to stay CAN-SPAM compliant is to use common sense. If you need to ask yourself whether or not your message is appropriate, it probably isn’t. Be courteous in your subject and message, offer an opt-out, and only send emails to addresses you’ve obtained through proper means (ie. A web form on your website, a subscription to a newsletter). Doing so will keep your email recipients happy, and you on the good side of the law.