What Does the CAN-SPAM Act Mean for Your Business?
Did you know that the CAN-SPAM Act applies to more than just emails? It also applies to text messages and calls as well.
Marketing your business is hard enough already without Federal regulators adding more hoops to jump through. No matter how annoying or difficult it may be, you have no choice but to comply with the CAN-SPAM act if you want to avoid some stiff ramifications.
Consumers want to receive communications from you, but they have very specific ways that they want to interact with you, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acts to ensure their rights are met.
You may have heard of the CAN-SPAM act before, but how does it really impact your business? What does it mean for your day-to-day operations, and what will happen if you fail to comply? Find out the answers to those questions and more — just keep reading.
The CAN-SPAM Act: How it Impacts Your Business
Noncompliance with the CAN-SPAM Act can be pretty costly, and might even land you in jail! Let us help you navigate the law by diving into what it is and exploring four rules that you have to follow to comply.
What is the CAN-SPAM Act?
The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that regulates commercial communications sent electronically and establishes guidelines that businesses must follow. Every message that violates this law could net you a fine of up to $42,530 — so make sure you’re following the law!
Disclaimer: We are not legal experts, and you should always consult a licensed lawyer for all your legal needs. You can find out more about the CAN-SPAM act on the Federal Trade Commissions website.
Four Important Rules of Compliance
The CAN-SPAM ACT has four important rules that you should know about if you want to keep your business from violating the law. Let’s explore each of these in more detail.
#1 Sender Information
The sender of a message cannot be misleading. Recipients should be able to quickly tell who sent the message — e.g., your name and/or business name. Your messages should be clear and leave no question as to who you are.
#2 Unsubscribe Process
EVERY single email or message you send should clearly tell the recipient how to opt-out and stop receiving them. Make the instructions easy to follow.
The opt-out method you use has to process any opt-out requests within 30 days of the email or message has been sent, and you have to honor those requests within 10 business days.
After someone unsubscribes, you are never allowed to sell or transfer their email address — unless you are sharing it with a company you hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. This is the only exception to that part of the law.
#3 Address or PO Box
In the case of email communications, you can keep your emails from hitting the spam folder and comply with the law by adding an address for your location. If you don’t have a physical location, you may use a P.O. Box that is registered with USPS.
#4 Get Permission
NEVER send unsolicited messages to anyone. You have to get their permission before you send the first one!
How do you get permission? Using a reputable software provider that clearly states they are a permission-based service will help you comply with the law. What if I am collecting emails at an event on paper?
Include a checkbox on a signup form that says they agree to receive messages from you and/or require a double-opt-in confirmation for them to confirm they opted into your messages. Make sure you store that confirmation.
Never upload a contact to your list manually without getting permission first.
Email providers like MailChimp and Constant Contact are permission-based. For SMS messages, EZ Texting fits that bill, and subscribers have to opt-in — giving permission — before they are sent the first text.
What if My Communications Aren’t Purely Commercial?
Let’s look at examples of communications via email that are provided by the FTC. Emails A and B are examples of emails with a mix of commercial/transactional content and relationship content.
It’s common for businesses to have emails like this, and you will need to decide what the primary purpose of your email is so that you can comply with CAN-SPAM guidelines.
If the primary purpose is commercial, the subject line needs to make that clear. How do I know if it’s commercial or not? If the majority of the relationship part of the email doesn’t appear at the beginning, then it’s considered a commercial email under the CAN-SPAM Act.
Email A contains the customer’s account information at the beginning, but the commercial message is brief and doesn’t appear until the end. This email would most likely be considered a relationship message and would only have to comply with the requirement of truthful routing information under the law’s guidelines.
Photo Source: Federal Trade Commission
Email B has a subject line that is clearly transactional and would be considered a commercial message. It would have to comply with all CAN-SPAM's requirements and guidelines.
Photo Source: Federal Trade Commission
The Impact of Noncompliance
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, noncompliance can be extremely costly, and more than one person can be held responsible for a single email. Both the company who sent the email and the company that is being promoted in the email will be subject to the fines.
You could even net yourself some time behind bars if you participate in any of the following activities:
- Using someone else’s PC or mobile device to send spam without permission.
- Providing false information when registering for communication platforms like email or text services.
- Misleading recipients about the origin of the communication by relaying spam messages through a computer.
- Using an auto generator to send messages to phone numbers or email addresses made up of random letters and numbers with the intent of reaching a valid participant.
- Utilizing open relays or proxies without permission.
Use EZ Texting to Send CAN-SPAM Compliant Texts
You don’t want to stress about breaking the law with every message you send out. EZ Texting makes it simple to comply with CAN-SPAM guidelines, and your subscribers will love the convenience that text message marketing brings them.
Start your free trial and test out all the features EZ Texting has to offer. Some of our most popular features include EZ chat, drip campaigns, personalization, reminders, and alerts.
Create your account now and send your first 100 messages for free.
Master Text Message Marketing and Boost Engagement
Recent research has shown that text messages have a much higher open rate than emails.
You can expect an open rate of 98% for texts compared to only 20% for email. However, don’t ditch your newsletters just yet though! Combine your email marketing with SMS messaging to watch the engagement among your audience skyrocket.
Do you want to become a text message marketing master?
We’ve helped over 160,000 customers just like you send over 4 billion messages. During that time, we’ve had the privilege of having some of the best text marketers in the industry as our clients. We’ve watched them do some pretty amazing things and have uncovered some of the patterns that they used that propelled them to success.
These tips are compiled into an easy to follow 9-Step Guide that you can download for free right now. So what are you waiting for? Download your free copy of The 9-Step Roadmap to Mastering Text Message Marketing for proven steps you can implement today!
Photo: Adobe Stock/Flamingo Images