Posted by Dave McCue on April 15th, 2009
If you climbed into the ring against a heavyweight boxer, wouldn’t you want more than just a mouthguard to protect yourself from harm? Email marketers should think of themselves the same way—CAN-SPAM compliance is your mouthguard, and that heavyweight opponent (in the form of thousands of email subscribers) is poised to start swinging.
Plenty of email marketers wisely learn the ins and outs of CAN-SPAM laws early on in the process to protect themselves from harm, but too many mistakenly believe that adhering to the rules of CAN-SPAM means they don’t have to worry about SPAM complaints. This is far from the truth; as long as “Junk” and “Spam” buttons exist on every popular email client, any message being sent is at risk for SPAM complaints.
So what’s a marketer to do? Don’t get complacent just because you’re compliant; there are always gray areas.
Before every email marketing campaign, think carefully about any potential negative reactions the campaign might cause. Your standard approach may be enough to satisfy the law of the land, but the moment you set foot in a recipient’s inbox you are no longer in control. CAN-SPAM says you can email a recipient one time without his/her permission; does the recipient know that? Not only is it a mistake to assume that your audience knows what truly constitutes a SPAM email, but it’s even more unrealistic to believe they worry about the damage they could be doing to your reputation as a sender by marking your message as SPAM.
To put it simply, the best defense against SPAM complaints is common sense, but it’s an approach that is all-too-often pushed aside. Never forget that all of the email addresses on your mailing list, as well as any other addresses you “acquire,” represent actual people. Try their patience, and they’ll act the way people do.
To go back to the boxing analogy, if compliance is your mouthguard, let common sense be your headgear. If you find yourself justifying an email strategy by saying “technically, this is totally legit,” you’re going to want to stop and re-evaluate things. If it means sending less email—if it means sending to less people—it might help you take a lot fewer punches in the ring.