It is imperative that your email marketing meets anti-spam law compliance guidelines to avoid possible fines or other penalties. Before adding new recipients to your contact list, you need to ensure that you have obtained the proper permission for each and every recipient on your list. Without proper permission, you run the risk of getting reported for spam or potentially being sued under anti-spam laws (such as CAN-SPAM or CASL). The basic principle of permission is that you can only communicate with people electronically (via email, social media, SMS or instant messaging) who have explicitly given you permission to contact them and only about subjects that they have specifically agreed to. Failure to ensure that all of your recipients fall into the “Acceptable Use” category below will result in immediate termination of your account.
- Individuals who explicitly opted in with you online.
- Each recipient subscribed to your list online and opted in for one or more types of mailings, for example by clicking one or more subject-related checkboxes that were unselected by default.
- Co-registration on a partner’s site is acceptable as long as there are separate opt-in options for each list and it is clear to users that they are subscribing to your list.
- If you haven’t sent the recipient email in over 6 months, we recommend a reintroduction message reminding them what they subscribed to and when.
- Individuals who explicitly opted in with you offline.
- These include recipients who completed your survey, offline form or participated in your contest and gave their express permission to be contacted by email about specific subject(s), for example by ticking an empty checkbox.
- Recipients who gave you their business card at an event.
- You have permission if it is made 100% clear that by giving their card the recipient would be added to a list related to a particular subject matter. We recommend an introductory message reminding them what they subscribed to and when.
- Individuals who explicitly opted in for the subject you are contacting them about.
- At the point of opt-in, it should be clear to the recipient what the nature of the mailings will be. For example, just because someone opted in for updates about a specific product or service doesn’t mean you can also add them to your monthly newsletter or promotional mailings about other products or services.
- Email addresses that have been copied from the Internet or other source.
- Just because someone published an email address online, in a directory or on a business card, doesn’t mean they’ve given permission to be added to your mailing list.
- No email sent to recipient’s address in over 2 years.
- Even when proper permission is granted, it doesn’t last forever. When too much time goes by, people forget they opted in and will consider your email to be spam. The industry norm is that permission expires after 2 years of no contact.
- Email address obtained from a third party.
- If you purchased, shared, rented, borrowed or otherwise acquired a list from another party, even if it’s an opt-in list, the recipients didn’t give their permission to hear from you specifically.
- Recipient is a customer but hasn’t opted in.
- Just because someone is your customer doesn’t give you explicit permission to send them email marketing messages. They would first have to opt in for the specific subject about which you are contacting them.
- Email address is generic and used by several people.
- You cannot email to generic email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org because they are often role-based and the users of such addresses change frequently. The only exception to this rule would be if you know the recipient and you are certain that it is their permanent individual email address.
- Email address is a distribution list or mailing list.
- You cannot send email to any address that forwards to more than one person because it is impossible to determine whether all recipients have given permission, and there is no way for them to unsubscribe individually.
Each and every email sent utilizing the services of Blue Window Media must include the following:
- Clear and descriptive header information so the person or business who initiated the message is accurately identified.
- A Subject line that accurately reflects the content of the message.
- A single-click unsubscribe link that instantly removes the subscriber from your list.
- Details about how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
- Clear discloser that your message is an advertisement.
- The physical address of the sender.
You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request quickly and within a reasonable timeframe (within 10 business days for CAN-SPAM). You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on a website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
You are strongly advised to seek your own legal advice regarding compliance and to refer the Federal Trade Commission for more information about CAN-SPAM or the Government of Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for more information about CASL.