If you want to send commercial email, you need to comply with CAN-SPAM. By commercial email, I mean email that involves more than a response to a previous message from a contact, prospect or client. Be careful not to send unwanted commercial email or you could end up in big trouble.
Under CAN-SPAM, you must follow these rules:
- Use accurate header information that includes the originating domain name, email address and the person who sent the email.
- Stick to truthful subject lines. You may not mislead the recipient about the contents or subject of the message.
- Allow recipients to opt-out. You must provide a return email address or Internet-based response form that lets the recipient tell you not to send messages to them at that address. You must honour their request. You can give recipients a menu of choices, in case they wish to continue receiving some messages, but you must allow them to end all commercial messages.
- Process opt-outs within 10 days. You must also be able to process opt-out requests for a 30-day period after you sent the commercial email.
- End all commercial email. You may not help other entities send email to that address or have other parties send email on your behalf. You may not sell or transfer email addresses of people who have opted out — unless you’re doing it to help another party make sure they do not send email to people who have opted out. For example, if you teamed with Microsoft to do a joint promotion, you could give Microsoft your list of opted-out addresses, so that they can be purged from the mailing.
- Identify your commercial email as an advertisement.
- Include your valid physical postal address.
Follow those rules, and you’re essentially free to send commercial email. But violate those rules and you could find yourself in big trouble. And, if you think you’re safe in another country, don’t be so sure. Can you be certain that your messages do not find their way to a US-based ISP or recipient?