September 3rd, 2015
If you are an online entrepreneur, you could be making a costly mistake in the (mis)use of your email.
How do you rate on the following quiz? Many entrepreneurs have several strikes against them, by the way, for various of the following issues:
- Have you ever sent an email with an improper “from,” “to,” or “Reply-To” field (including originating domain name and email address?) I have received emails from people who are well-established in their industries and have sent emails using symbols such as “>” or something similar in lieu of their name. Whether it is done to garner more attention to that email or for another purpose, it is actually against the law.
- Have you ever used a deceptive subject line? Sometimes you will see a subject line that is written just to grab the attention of the reader, but that has nothing to do with the content of the email. Did you know that this is also illegal? You are required by law to use a subject line that accurately reflects the content of your message.
- Have you ever failed to identify your outgoing email broadcast/autoresponder/or email solicitations as an ad? This is required by law.
- Have you ever failed to tell recipients where you are located, via an accurate, valid physical postal address? I personally received a whole series of emails from an up-and-coming but relatively established business coach who is using “123, Somewhere USA” in her email autosponder series. This is also against the law. A valid postal address is required on ALL commercial emails. Period.
- Have you ever failed to include an opt-out link or option in your email? A failure to do this in even ONE email is against the law. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous option for opting out of future emails. And you must include an option for opting out of ALL future commercial emails from you.
- Have you ever failed to promptly honor an opt-out request? Your opt-out mechanism must be able to process the opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. And you must honor the request within 10 business days of its receipt. And you can’t require your recipient to take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on a website to execute an opt-out request. Once someone has opted out, you cannot sell or transfer their information. The only exception is transferring their info to a company to help you comply with the law.
- Have you ever failed to monitor what others are doing on your behalf? If you have hired another company to handle or build your email marketing system, understand that you have not passed along legal liability for complying with the law. YOU are still responsible for any messages (or violations incurred) on your behalf.
Violations of any of the above rules could subject you to a $16,000 penalty. And that’s a $16,000 penalty PER email! You can see in a hurry that this is not something to mess around with. Each of the above requirements, and others, are laid out in the CAN-SPAM Act, a Federal Law in the United States that governs the sending of commercial email messages, and requirements for allowing recipients to opt-out and stop the communications, as well as penalties for violations of this law. (Psssst. See an update on this post, including on penalty amounts here.)
Commercial email messages include ANY message (not just bulk emails) that advertise or promote a commercial product or service, including content on a website operated for a commercial purpose (for example newsletters that provide simple blog updates without selling anything — STILL commercial when the blog is operated to make somebody some money).
For more information on Risk Management, visit these other posts…..
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS VIDEO MAY CONTAIN LEGAL INFORMATION, BUT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. NO RELATIONSHIP, INCLUDING ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP, HAS BEEN FORMED AS A RESULT OF THIS POST. YOU ARE ADVISED TO SEEK THE ADVICE OF AN ATTORNEY LICENSED IN YOUR STATE IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.