Email lists are so important to a small business. It’s how we connect with our clients that have specifically said they want updates from us. I still see many businesses sending emails from their own email, as in BCC’ing (or not, so we can see the whole list of who gets the email!) a long list of people in their Outlook or other email software. Not only is this annoying, it’s ILLEGAL under the CAN-SPAM act.
The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) law has been in effect since 2003 that established rules for commercial emails, meaning ANY professional business with sales/promotions/advertisements/events. It states this as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email.” Transactional and relationship messages are exempt (personal, one-to-one emails if they are to complete a sale or discussion, not a sales email). According to HubSpot, “for every single email that violates the CAN-SPAM Act, the FTC will fine you $16,000. So if you’re caught being non-compliant for a list of, say, 10,000 … well, you do the math. Yikes.”
So how do you stay compliant?
*Use an email management service. MailChimp or Constant Contact are two popular providers. Now don’t freak out, I can hear you saying, “But I don’t want to PAY to send emails!” Not only are these options low cost or free, but your business requires it. The expense is justified as just part of doing business. And it’ll help your business grow. (As you grow and want to add other options such as lead generation and drip campaigns, InfusionSoft or ConvertKit are better options.)
*Use a very clear “From”, “To”, and “Reply To” email addresses and names. This gets set up automatically in whatever service you use. Your business name is recommended, unless you actually do business under your personal name. Never change it, as it can create confusion for the receiver as well as possible spam catchers.
*Every email you send to a bulk list (not individual personal emails) requires you to have an unsubscribe link. Most services such as MailChimp include this in the emails automatically, but I still see people adding a note on the email saying “email me to unsubscribe”, which is tacky and doesn’t work. It has to be a link they click to unsubscribe themselves.
*You have to provide a physical address. It is set up automatically in your system so you don’t have to remember to do it on every email you send. If you are cautious about putting your home address, get a PO Box at your local USPS has affordable options (I pay $72 for a year).
Not too hard at all, and will help your business grow!
If you need an email service, I love MailChimp. Sign up at http://eepurl.com/uw9gf and then let me know if you need assistance setting it up!