Zipporah Media

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Zipporah Media is a marketing consultancy firm, specializing in small-to-medium sized businesses. Located in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, our services include internet marketing consulting, content development for businesses, social media consulting and management.

Cans and Cants of CAN-SPAM Compliant Email Campaigns

As consumers have evolved from using traditional ways of connecting with businesses (phone directories, newspaper ads) to digital mediums (desktop computers, mobile devices), business owners have embraced email marketing as a way to keep in touch with their existing customer base and increase sales. While putting together a great campaign and sending it to your entire distribution list seems simple enough, there are rules that the average American small- to medium-sized business owner may not be aware of. 

In 2003, Congress passed the CAN-SPAM Act, establishing the how, who, when, and where of commercial emails. These rules not only apply to bulk emails, but to ALL of your business emails, even the ones sent to other businesses.

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via giphy.gif

So, not only do you have to make sure you're not making the mistakes pointed out in last week's blog, but that you're also not breaking the law. Keep in mind, the same rules and penalties apply, regardless of the size of your business. Violations can result in fines up to $16,000 per offense. 

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To keep your wallet from weeping and to make sure your email campaigns are compliant, here are a few cans and cants outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act:

If they've opted-in, you can send

A legitimate email distribution list only contains recipients who want to receive information from you. The most common way of violating this is by purchasing lists. Initially, it can seem like a good idea - blast a ton of people that don't know who you are and cross your fingers that a few of them will bite - but its not. Not only will the reputation of your company take a hit in the minds of consumers but it can lead to complaints being filed against your company with the Federal Trade Commission

You can't stop opt-outs

Every email correspondence that you send must include clear instructions on how the recipient can unsubscribe. While no one likes losing subscribers, you can't make subscribers jump through hoops to do so. The unsubscribe process should be just as easy to navigate as subscribing. In the event that you do receive an opt-out request, you have 10 business days to process it.

Other opt-out cants, according to the CAN-SPAM Act:

  • You can't sell or transfer an email address once the opt-out has been requested
  • You can't ask for information beyond the email address in order to grant the opt-out
  • You can't make them pay in order to opt-out

Once the request to stop receiving messages has been received, confirmation of the request should be sent to the recipient and all other correspondence should end. 

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via Photobucket.com

 

Contact info can - and must - be included

Even though things such as your company name and logo may be included in the email, the CAN-SPAM Act requires that a business address be included in all email correspondences. It can be a street address or a P.O. Box. All that matters is that the address is valid and visible in the email. 

You can't be misleading

Recipients have to know what they are getting when they receive an email from you. Your email must clearly identify who it is from and the subject line must reflect the content of the email. If it is an ad, you must say that it is so. 

You can't pass the buck

Many companies have opted to use a third party or agency to handle their email marketing needs. While this is a great way to delegate some responsibilities and free up valuable time, it doesn't absolve you of legal responsibility for your email campaigns. Both parties can be held responsible for violations, so pay close attention to what's being sent out on your company's behalf. 

 

The best way to avoid being in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is to be informed about it. To learn more about the CAN-SPAM Act and how to make sure your business is compliant, take a look at the Federal Trade Commission's CAN-SPAM Act Compliance Guide For Business (PDF).

Email marketing campaign killers: True Blood edition

Email marketing can be one of the most cost-effective and flexible ways for small- to medium-sized businesses to reach their target audience. Recent reports from the Direct Marketing Association show that email marketing campaigns yield an ROI of 4,300%. In a world where everyone is on the go, email marketing campaigns allow business owners to reach consumers no matter where they may be. In fact, 77% of consumers surveyed in conjunction with a recent study said they prefer receiving opt-in email marketing communications. Yet with so many others bombarding email boxes, not getting caught in the spam shuffle can become a challenge. 

Inspired by the final season of HBO's hit supernatural show True Blood, here are some reasons why your communications may end up in the trash bin, even when the content is relevant:

Sabotaged by the subject line

The subject line of your email is your first line of defense. It is the one element a recipient uses to determine whether your communication is legit or a potential computer virus. The subject line tells the recipient what they are about to read. One that is vague, long (more than 50 characters), generic, and doesn't pertain to their business are very likely to remain unopened. Subject lines that are typed in all caps and contain lots of exclamation points are a sure fire way to sound your recipients' inner spammer alarm should the email make it past their spam filter (which are becoming more sensitive to these types of elements). Seeing these elements can make a recipient run from your email as fast as they would from an approaching vampire with his fangs drawn. 

Sending to those who haven't subscribed

There are few things more irritating than receiving unsolicited emails. Adding recipients who haven't opted in to your distribution lists will not only lead to a massive amount of unsubscribe requests and spam complaints, but also has a negative effect on your reputation, brand and analytics. Not including and opt-out option and failure to remove those who have opted out from your distribution list within 10 days not only adds insult to injury but is a violation of the Can-SPAM Act.  Failure to send a welcome email - including what to expect and how to customize their settings - can also lead to current and perspective customers requesting to unsubscribe. 

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via Tumblr

 

Sharing isn't always caring

There is such a thing as too much information. Including too much information and sending too many emails can negate all of your well-intentioned email marketing efforts. Failure to set up an email schedule and sending communications that aren't relevant gives the impression that you are disorganized and don't value your audience. Email communications shouldn't be limited to sales and product promotions. They should include informative content such as valuable industry news and your company's most recent blog posts. A constant stream of irrelevant, impersonal emails can lead to your current and perspective customers shutting their doors to you. 

 via tvrecappersanonymous

via tvrecappersanonymous

Crash landing on the wrong page

Even if you've gotten everything else right, it can all go wrong if your email marketing campaign links to the wrong landing page. When the links within your email don't respond to your call to action, leaving the recipient to search your website for the correct information, you will quickly lose their interest and the opportunity to convert them to a sale. 

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via blogforchoice.com

Mic check 1,2...1,2...

Just because everything looks ok as you are imputing the information into your email client doesn't mean it will look that way once it lands in inboxes. Failure to test your email campaigns before sending them to your distribution list can result in missed opportunity to get your message out and an increase in requests to unsubscribe. Once the communication goes out, you've missed the opportunity to do things such as correct the formatting, remove that sentence that isn't working so well with the rest of your message, or make sure that the email can be viewed on mobile devices. According to research conducted by Litmus, 69% of users delete emails that aren't optimized for mobile devices. With over 48% of all emails being opened on mobile devices, not taking the time to test emails can keep you from getting your message out.

 via runswithwhips

via runswithwhips

What are some of the email marketing campaign mistakes that you've made? What is some advice that you would give to marketers that are new to the email campaign world?