The Warmup Inbox Team
The Warmup Inbox Team

What Is The CAN-SPAM Act?

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) of 2003 created federal protocols in the US for mass emailing. The Act established email user protections against spam, phishing, and other undesired email messages.

As email messaging became increasingly popular, so did the use of malicious spam emails. To prevent the flood of spam emails into consumers’ inboxes, the CAN-SPAM Act outlines regulations for businesses that send commercial emails.

It’s important to note that CAN-SPAM doesn’t regulate personal or transactional messages. So if you’re setting up a lunch meeting with a colleague from your business email, you don’t have to say that the message is an advertisement.

The CAN-SPAM Act requires companies to give consumers the ability to opt-out of their email list. Since it’s a federal law, businesses that don’t comply with CAN-SPAM can be prosecuted and fined.

How Can You be CAN-SPAM Compliant?

Being CAN-SPAM compliant is extremely simple. All aspects of the Act are to preserve the ethics of online interactions, so practicing healthy engagement with your consumers will already set you on the right path to compliance. Complying with CAN-SPAM includes:

  • Using truthful information in your headers, including who the email is coming from and what the message is about
  • Identifying that the message is an advertisement – You don’t have to put “AD” in the subject line, but the bottom of the email can include “This advertisement was sent by [Business Name]
  • Including a valid mailing address
  • Giving customers a simple way to unsubscribe from your email lists and honoring their request to unsubscribe immediately
  • Not selling or transferring a customer’s email address to a third party, even if it’s included on a larger mailing list
  • Monitoring any person or platform sending emails on your behalf – just because you pay someone else to run your email marketing doesn’t mean your business is exempt from penalties related to non-compliance

What Are the Penalties for Failing to Comply?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), each separate email in violation of CAN-SPAM is subject to penalties up to $43,792. That’s each individual email. So accidentally sending a lot of non-compliant emails can bankrupt a company very quickly.

Outside of nasty fines, the CAN-SPAM Act can lead to a lowered delivery rate and can get your IP address or domain put onto multiple blocklists.