Email Marketing Advertising Law: What you need to know

email marketing regulations
email advertising law

Email marketing is undoubtedly one of the most popular marketing methods among many businesses due to its high returns, low cost, advantageous long-term investment, and effective branding strategy. Checking emails has become a daily essential habit for millions of people since the invention of the internet. This laid the groundwork for the email marketing industry to thrive even today.

However, company owners and marketing directors also need to comply with the email marketing advertising law as for their campaign to be valid. If you’re still wondering whether your email marketing is eligible, keep reading this article because we got the answers for you. 

CAN-SPAM

The CAN-SPAM act

The CAN-SPAM Act applies to all commercial emails and establishes a set of specific rules that must be followed in order to comply. Failure to follow these rules can be costly — up to $43,280 per email — so make sure you follow them. Fortunately, the majority of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003’s rules are already part of general good email practices. They are as follows:

  • Don’t use false or misleading identifying information in your “From,” “To,” or “Reply-To” fields.
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  • Do identify your email as an ad.
  • Do include your valid postal address, including but not limited to your street address.
  • Do give recipients a clear way to opt-out of your email and honor all opt-out requests.

These rules apply regardless of who sends emails on your behalf, so if you’re collaborating with an agency to send out electronic communications, make sure they’re aware of CAN-SPAM and following all regulations.

Permission-Based

permission-based email marketing

Permission-based email marketing, also known as opt-in email marketing, was first defined in 1999, so it’s not a new concept. It states that you must obtain direct permission from a recipient before sending them an email, whether through a sign-up form on your website, a form to access a gated asset, or some other type of lead capture effort.

There is one caveat, however: it is not sufficient for someone to simply provide you with their email address and contact information. To be safe, have an opt-in box or unsubscribe link that a prospect checks before you contact them as an email marketer. And never (we repeat, never) buy email lists and send unsolicited emails.

Opt-In and Opt-Out

This was covered in the previous two rules, but it’s so important that it’s worth repeating. You must have a recipient directly opt-in to receiving messages from you and provide an easy way for them to opt-out. Failure to do so may result in you being added to the email blacklist, which means your messages will be considered spam and will not reach your recipients’ inboxes — even those who correctly opted in for your marketing emails.

Email Advertisements

According to CAN-SPAM, you must clearly and conspicuously identify your email as an advertisement. You have some leeway in how you do this (old rules required it to be right in the subject line, yikes), but a statement must appear somewhere in the email and be obvious to your recipients.

Include Your Address

Another CAN-SPAM requirement that you may be unaware of if you haven’t heard it before: any email you send must include your physical address. Most businesses include this in the email’s footer, but you can put it anywhere, including the header information.

EU-US Privacy Shield

the EU-US privacy shield

The EU-US Privacy Shield was an agreement that allowed for the transfer of personal data from the EU to the US; however, it was struck down on July 16, 2020, due to the inadequacy of US data guidelines.

What does this have to do with you? To begin, if you were previously relying on the EU-US Privacy Shield for data compliance, you must abandon that and return to full GDPR compliance (which, to be fair, you should have been doing anyway, even with the Privacy Shield in place). Use additional safeguards, such as the Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs), to ensure that you are meeting all requirements related to your use of EU data.

There is so much room for creativity in your email marketing and email campaigns, but it is not worth deviating from the rules and regulations outlined above. Email blacklists and steep fines imposed by the ftc can spell the end of a small or medium-sized business and harm the integrity of your brand for years to come.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

It’s not surprising that the most comprehensive privacy law in history would include restrictions on direct marketing communications. Despite being a European initiative, the GDPR applies to (and will be enforced upon) any business that collects personal information from EU residents.

This regulation will apply to you regardless of where your company is based if your marketing database contains any European email addresses. The GDPR has the following to say about email marketing:

  • To receive marketing messages, consumers must provide valid consent.
  • Consent must be expressed clearly and affirmatively, never implied or assumed. This means that webform consent checkboxes cannot be pre-ticked.
  • Companies that send marketing messages must keep detailed records of each user’s verified consent.
  • Customers may only be contacted in relation to marketing the service or products to which they agreed.
  • Revocation of direct marketing consent must be as simple and straightforward as giving consent.

Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM)

CAN-SPAM is one of the world’s oldest email marketing regulations. Its laws were enacted in 2003, following years of email spam and unsolicited pornography flooding inboxes around the world. CAN-SPAM applies to businesses based in the United States that send marketing emails to US residents. The following are its prerequisites:

  • To mislead the recipient, do not use deceptive email addresses, names, domain names, or subject lines. Be truthful and trustworthy.
  • If you send an email to someone who has not previously consented to receive marketing communications from your company, you must label the message as an advertisement.
  • If the message contains adult content or explicit imagery, this must be clearly stated in the email’s subject line.
  • All marketing emails should include a physical street address.
  • Provide a clear and easy way for customers to unsubscribe from marketing emails. Within 10 days, respond to unsubscribe requests.

Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

This regulation does not only apply to businesses in Canada. CASL will apply to any company that sends marketing communications to Canadian residents. These are its fundamental tenets:

  • Before sending promotional emails to an individual, you must obtain their express or implied consent.
  • Consent forms must be clear and include the business’s identification and contact information.
  • Consent forms must state that users may revoke consent at any time. Consent records must be kept for all Canadian residents.
  • Marketing emails must include the company name, contact information, and unsubscribe instructions.

How to Comply with Email Marketing Advertsing Law

How to Comply with Email Marketing Laws

Because the internet is a global marketplace, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the contacts on your marketing list. As a result, most businesses choose to comply with all of the above regulations in order to avoid potential lawsuits or legal allegations.

Because many requirements overlap between governing bodies, we’ve created a step-by-step guide that explains how to meet all of the requirements outlined above.

1. Obtain Valid Consent

Before sending marketing messages, both the GDPR and CASL require businesses to obtain and store records of consumer consent. Here are some steps to take to ensure that your consent mechanisms are valid. Do not pre-check the consent checkboxes. To provide consent, the user must take a clear, affirmative action.

It is critical to use open, straightforward language here. Marketing consent will be deemed invalid if it is ambiguous or bundled with user membership or other types of consent. Make the consent opt-in as specific, straightforward, and straightforward as possible.

Maintain records of user consent. If you don’t keep records of valid consent, it has no legal value. Keep consent records for each customer in a place where they can be easily accessed if needed. It is also critical to keep detailed records of all individuals who have unsubscribed from your email list in order to avoid accidentally adding them back in.

2. Re-permission Contacts With No Record of Consent

It is critical to keep records of valid consent, especially for customers in Canada and Europe. If your previous email collection methods did not capture consumer consent, you will need to conduct a repermission campaign.

Repermission campaigns involve sending emails to each customer to confirm their willingness to receive marketing communications. It is worth noting that SuperOffice is open about the types of emails that customers can expect and that users can unsubscribe at any time.

The most important takeaway is that consumers must be removed from mailing lists if they do not actively click the opt-in button. As a result, your company records the valid consent of each customer who confirms their subscription while avoiding potential privacy complaints from individuals who have not provided valid consent.

3. Display Proper Contact Details

Include your company’s street address and another contact method in the email signup form, as Canada Goose has done here:

4. Keep the Communication Honest, Straightforward and Clear

Don’t use a fictitious or deceptive email address, name, or domain name. The following email, for example, is from the domain name getourfinancedeal.com, but the company name appears as “Order-Canceled,” and the subject line is both misleading and fictitious. Here’s an example of what you shouldn’t do:

Instead, to avoid violating multiple spam laws, make sure your marketing communications are straightforward and truthful. CAN-SPAM also requires that any email with explicit or sexual content include the following notice in the subject line:

5. Opting-out Should be Simple, Easy and Accessible

When users sign up to receive marketing communications, remind them that they have the option to unsubscribe, as National Geographic does here:

In every marketing email, include a prominent unsubscribe link. Shein’s promotional emails include an unsubscribe link at the bottom that, when clicked, automatically opts the user out of marketing emails. Keep in mind that the method for opting out should be as simple as the method for signing up. If your email newsletter signup form is a one-click process, your unsubscribe process should be just as simple.

FAQs

Legally, you are permitted to purchase email lists. But here’s the catch: for each email list you purchase, you must obtain specific consent from those on the list for future use. Recipients may have given permission to be on the list you purchased, but they must do so again.

In a nutshell… You must not send marketing emails or texts to individuals without their express permission. There is a limited exception for previous customers, known as the’soft opt-in.’ You can send marketing emails or text messages to businesses.

Email marketing laws exist to ensure that recipients’ rights are not violated and that businesses do not exploit user data. As previously stated, email marketing laws vary, but in general, they all prohibit spam and the use of illegal mailing lists.

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