If you use email to stay in touch with your customers and inform them of special offers, you need to be very careful not to find yourself blacklisted as a spammer.
Email is a very effective means of communication, but it’s easy to find your account blocked if you don’t abide by the rules.The CAN-SPAM Act sets out very specific guidelines for what you can and cannot do. In summary, the Act says that:
- You can only send email to people who have opted to receive it;
- You must provide a way for them to stop receiving emails;
- You must ensure that your emails are clearly identifiable as commercial email;
- You must clearly identify yourself.
Even with the best of intentions, many businesses find themselves in trouble. Here are some of the things to watch out for.
Sending out too many emails at once
Standard commercial email services will set off an alarm if you send out a lot of identical emails. If you’re only sending 50 or 60 at a time, you’re probably okay, but anything over 100 is likely to trigger a spam alert.
Instead of sending via your normal office email, set up an account with a reputable mass email provider such as MailChimp, ConstantContact, or Mad Mimi. It may cost you a small amount per email, but they have agreements in place to ensure that their volume of emails won’t cause problems. They usually have procedures you need to go through to verify that you’re legitimate, and they have fairly strict rules to ensure you’re complying with CAN-SPAM.
Being reported by recipients
Most ISPs and email services provide an easy way for users to mark your email as spam or junk. If they receive too many reports, they will mark you as a spammer, and will refuse to deliver any further email from your domain.
People who have opted to receive your emails generally won’t mark them as junk. They’ll simply delete them or unsubscribe. However, if you’re sending email to people who didn’t ask for it, then you run a very high risk of being blacklisted – and rightly so. Sending unsolicited commercial email is spam.
Don’t ever use email lists you’ve purchased from third parties or scraped from the Internet. Don’t try to trick people into subscribing either. It’s not worth it. Make sure you’re only emailing people who want to hear from you.
Content that looks spammy
Choose your words carefully. Email and Internet providers use pattern matching tools to determine whether emails are likely to be spam. Think about the kind of language that shows up in spam mail you receive… lots of “coupon” talk and “50% off” or “special offer”, or other such high-pressure sales language. When they detect emails that contain a lot of those words, they use that information when “scoring” an email for spam content.
It’s okay to use those words, but use them sparingly. Tell your customers about the products you’re offering, the benefits and other useful information, not just the special offer. Most mass email providers will provide tools that allow you to analyze the content of your email and determine whether it’s likely to be flagged as spam. Check your email before sending it, and rewrite it if necessary.