It is yet another Monday morning. Unread emails from last night, which have now touched double digits in my inbox. Along with the relevant emails, I manage to receive on a pretty consistent basis-a lot of SPAM. “Dear Xyz, you need to check out this website”, reads a mail from an acquaintance. A similar email popped into my inbox a week back while my spam filter was snoring. It’s these emails that I receive sometimes from relatively unknown companies or emails from relatively known companies that manage to seep in through to my inbox. Nothing can annoy a customer more than spam. While I wonder from where do these companies get access to my email id since most of the times I enter an alternate email id or enter a particular id only on genuine sites, one thing is for certain, your personal details are up for sale and how. It doesn’t matter how legitimate a company seems to be on the face of it, but one can safely assume that most of them are surely involved in the selling and buying of data, in the form of lists. I no longer trust my mobile service operator or even my bank, since these are the prime accused targets. If it is not being done at the managerial level, I am pretty sure it is those sneaky lower level employees behind all of this who want to make a quick buck. Spam is a business. In fact Spam in itself is an industry that exists along side email marketing. Most spammers buy bulk email addresses from unrepeatable sellers. Or through a variety of means such as harvesting them from Usenet postings, domain name DNS listings or web pages. One can’t say that the email marketing industry is innocent, since it itself gave birth to this evil, that it is now finding tough to manage.
Wikipedia states that email spam is the most common form of Internet spamming. Having said all this, spam has greatly received a blow over the years. One of the most important factors for this has to be the CAN-SPAM act. The CAN-SPAM act of 2003 (Controlling the assault of non solicited pornography and marketing) establishes requirements for those who send emails, spells out penalties for spammers and companies whose products are advertised in spam if they violate the law and gives consumers the right to ask e-mailers to stop spamming them.
So what does this post have in store for you considering you aware about spam and are not a spammer in the first place? Just because you don’t happen to be in the business of selling and purchasing email lists doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax and let the CAN-SPAM laws go for a toss. Obviously we do understand that you never make the mistake of sending emails to a purchased list nor do you ever dump your address book into your email subscriber list. This may all sound like common sense but one needs to realize that even small mistakes can get your company into trouble when it comes to mass mailing. Whether it is an innocent mistake the caused you to leave out an appropriate physical mailing address in your email footer or mistakenly using the f word (no not that), “free” in a subject line is likely to get you into trouble.
Here a few suggestions for you to follow while sending out your mailers:
1. Understand the CAN-SPAM act
No we don’t expect you to know and memorize the act page to page, but it is advisable to consult a lawyer and learn the rules because these are the basis for your business to begin
2. Rules aren’t meant to be broken
Rules don’t just end at can-spam if your are an email marketer. Even if you send bulk permission based email to your recipients who deal with large ISP’s, you need to stick to the rulebook. That means following rules laid down by ISP’s as well.
3. Track the mail
You need to essentially know where your recipients are physically present on the globe. It is not enough to comply with rules and regulations in the country where your server is located alone, but you also need to comply with spam laws, which may be different for different countries.
So all this may make it sound like mass mailing is quite a task, too many rules to abide by. Well yes it is, but consider it is as a one-time investment. Make this investment and your businesses as well as your mailers are good to go. Omit these aspects and you could actually be facing serious lawsuits, which we shall discuss in our next blog post.Although CAN-SPAM laws are implemented mainly in the US, but they might soon catch up here in India too. So consider this as a heads up warning. In our next post we shall cover a few big companies that have been hit hard by anti spam laws and have had to pay huge amounts of settlement fees for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for relatively harmless mistakes. Till them make sure your company adopts a no spam policy.