Legal Requirements for Newsletters

Many businesses are still sending out mass emails through their email client — and this practice could get them flagged as spammers.
CAN-SPAM Act compliant newsletter avoid spam

Is your newsletter getting past the spam filter?

Spam email isn’t just a nuisance, it’s illegal. And if you don’t follow the newsletter guidelines set up in the CAN-SPAM Act (canned spam — get it?), you could get flagged as a spammer or even fined.

The easiest way to avoid being flagged or fined is to use a newsletter service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, the two biggest players in the game, but certainly not the only ones. These services, which each contain a free subscription service up to a certain number of subscribers and/or emails sent, are set up in such a way to prevent you from violating the CAN-SPAM Act, although they’re far from foolproof in that respect. They are also very user-friendly, particularly MailChimp, so you don’t need to be a computer geek to set them up, although that certainly makes it easier. Siteseeing Media uses MailChimp for their newsletters, so if you get The One Thing newsletter, you’re already familiar with what a CAN-SPAM-compliant email looks like.

Here are some common ways businesses violate the CAN-SPAM Act and how these email marketing tools can help you from being flagged as a spammer.

  1. Email Doesn’t Have a Way to Unsubscribe. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that your message contain “a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future.” Both MailChimp and Constant Contact automatically include unsubscribe links in the footer of emails, which also saves you the effort of having to maintain a list every time someone asks to be removed.
  2. To/From Info Is Misleading. Although you can somewhat control how these appear to recipients, MailChimp and Constant Contact help those with altruistic intent to conform to this law. Of course, black hat spammers will always find a way around everything.
  3. Users Can’t Tell Where You’re Physically Located. A URL isn’t enough. You have to include a physical address, which can be your home, office, or anywhere someone could visit you face to face.
  4. You Don’t Process Opt-Out Requests in a Timely Manner. If a user wants off your list, you have to honor that request within 10 days and you cannot require them to do anything other than provide you with the email address they want removed.

Those are the biggies, but visit the CAN-SPAM site to read more guidelines that you need to follow when sending your campaigns. If you don’t follow these rules, it’s more likely that your recipients will mark your message as spam, which could get your email blocked and cause a host of other troubles.

Siteseeing Media can help you set up your newsletter template, send regular email newsletters, and create content. Contact us for more info.

Written by

Jenna Rose Robbins started her life as a nerd on her Commodore 64 coding Mad Libs games for her friends. After graduating from the University of Michigan, she parlayed her digital talents into a career and went on to work at AOL and launch multi-million-dollar websites for Disney. After heading up FIJI Water's marketing department, she opened up shop under the Siteseeing banner, which helps small businesses improve their local presence on the web. When she's not getting eyestrain at her computer, Jenna can generally be found trying to avoid emergency rooms around the world.