What to do right now, what to keep an eye on. An e-mail marketer's checklist.
At the start of this year, the CAN-SPAM Act went into effect. Some aspects of the law are well-defined; others, such as using "ADV" or another label in commercial mail subject lines, are not yet fully outlined. Then, there are real grey areas, such as whether you must include your or the list owner's brand when sending a commercial message to a third-party list.
Here's a quick reference version of a report I put together for myself and my clients based on my reading of the law. It includes:
Space doesn't permit a discussion of CAN-SPAM's grey areas here. Watch industry publications this month and next as these are more defined. If there's interest and more definitive information next month, I'll cover the grey areas in my next column.
Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer (nor do I even play one on TV!). The following recommendations are based on my reading of the law, not legal advice. Where applicable, I cite section numbers that refer to the law's original language.
Congress created some new terminology you'll want to be familiar with. The high points:
Compliance Basics: A 10-Point Checklist
Many of these are very basic and already second nature to opt-in email marketers: no fraudulent transmission data, no harvesting email addresses. Others are more complex, such as new rules regarding inclusion of a physical postal address. These are good starting points in ensuring your email program is in compliance with the new law:
Another note, not so much on compliance as protection. Under this law, if you want to protect email addresses on your Web site from being harvested, add a notice you don't "give, sell, or otherwise transfer" these addresses to "any other party for the purpose of initiating, or enabling others to initiate," email messages (section 5(b)(1)(A)).
Future Provisions Timeline
Most enforcement will be undertaken by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), some with input from the Attorney General, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of Justice, and other appropriate Federal agencies:
Full text of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.
Happy New Year! And best wishes for happiness, health, and effective and profitable email marketing in 2004! Your thoughts and feedback on my columns are always welcome.
Until next time,
Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Strategies is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.
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Jeanne Jennings is a 20 year veteran of the online/email marketing industry, having started her career with CompuServe in the late 1980s. As Vice President of Global Strategic Services for Alchemy Worx, Jennings helps organizations become more effective and more profitable online. Previously Jennings ran her own email marketing consultancy with a focus on strategy; clients included AARP, Hasbro, Scholastic, Verizon and Weight Watchers International. Want to learn more? Check out her blog.
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