Volume I • Issue IX

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January 2018

EMAIL ADVERTISING REQUIRES DILIGENCE AND COMPLIANCE

With technology and statutory changes over the past several years, marketing channels that were once standalone operations (such as telesales, direct mail, mobile marketing, etc.), are now relying on a coordinated, synergistic approach across channels to maximize sales and customer loyalty. Email advertising, in particular, is a growing component of this multi-channel marketing approach.

Email advertising is governed in the U.S. primarily by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing). States that have email laws largely parallel the Federal regulations. Canada has its own national regulations under CASL (Canada Anti-Spam Legislation).

Companies wishing to use email advertising must consider several important compliance and performance points. One cannot simply “get a list” and start sending. Under the CAN-SPAM Act, some email violations can be classed as felonies.

Compliance considerations include correct server domains, subject lines, and unsubscribe features. Recipients wishing to receive no further solicitation emails must be given an opt-out option, and compliance measures require specific timelines and other minutia about tracking that process. There are additional content requirements for solicitation emails, and these must be known in advance of any marketing launch to keep your company within safe harbor.

In addition to regulatory requirements, there are also operational concerns that affect the performance and compliance of email advertising. Not unlike telesales, where phone service providers and third-parties can block calls with little or no warning, emails can be blocked en masse. It’s not uncommon for a company to acquire an email list, start broadcasting, and find that many if not all of their emails did not arrive to the intended recipients.

There are hundreds of vendor companies doing email broadcasting, and many will not always advise you on the issue of undelivered emails. After all, many make their money on sending the emails, not on actual delivery. Some email servers are in fact blocked entirely by certain providers from broadcasting bulk emails, and a company planning email advertising is advised to perform due diligence on any vendors.

Unlike telephone directories, there is no published email address book. Email addresses are typically collected in two ways; user-provided addresses, and what is referred to as “scraping” or “harvesting”. Generally, user-provided email addresses are fine to utilize, given a few provisions.

Email lists compiled by scraping (which literally means scraping emails from web pages such as social media or business sites) are not legal for use in delivery of advertising. The same is true for other harvesting methods that access contact address books and the like. There are literally hundreds of programs and services available online that will compile such lists, or provide you with software to do so yourself. Stay away from this approach.

Once an email list has been obtained and is legal for use, another factor is deliverability. Just because you have an email address for someone does not mean it actually functions, or that it goes to the intended recipient. Email addresses are often cryptic, particularly for consumers, and validation of emails is an important ingredient in successful email marketing.

Any advertising department would do well to get grounded in email marketing requirements and successful operational details before considering deployment.

All Global Resources is an award-winning, nationally recognized expert in blending today’s marketing channels with regulatory compliance, and we can provide invaluable guidance across all customer-touchpoint channels.