EP 31: Is cold-emailing legal? What do I need to know to send my customers and leads new promotions? In this episode, we break down the rules and regulations of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, so we can reach out to our clients in a lawful way.
*CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business
Cradoc Foto Software
Michael Der 0:02
You're listening to Artrepreneurs, a podcast that inspires photographers and visual artists to live their best creative lives. My name is Michael Der and I am a full time photographer with nearly 10 years of experience in the freelancing world. And I'm sitting down with an amazing community of visual artists to talk about process, business, and the lessons that have helped them grow. So let's get to it. Artrepreneurs starts right now.
Alright folks, welcome back to another episode of Artrepreneurs. Today is an exciting day because quite honestly, this topic is something that I am just learning about my amazing Episode 30 guests, Christina Peters brought something up in our interview the other day that really piqued my interest when I asked her about cold emailing techniques, she responded that there are privacy rules in place when emailing people cold, which we all do, but very few of us actually know enough about. So today, I am going to give you some guidelines taken directly from the Federal Trade Commission's website on the official rules for commercial emailing.
Now some countries are very strict with how you are allowed to broach cold clients and customers. And unfortunately, I didn't quite have the time to research all the other countries outside of the US. So if you are one of our amazing international listeners whom I adore, so very much. I hope this episode simply inspires you to seek out information on your own on what your country's laws stipulate.
For everyone else listening domestically in the United States. Here's the main thesis of this entire episode. If you currently participate in any email marketing in the United States, or plan on it down the road, you need to be aware of a law called the can spam act of 2003. It is in effect a law that sets rules where commercial email and messages gives recipients the right to have you stopped emailing them and spells out tough penalties for violations.
Now, specifically in context with email, the word spam itself isn't an actual acronym for anything, but in context of can spam. It is an acronym that stands for controlling the assault of non solicited pornography and marketing. And it is this rule that we need to understand as surprised as you might be, we can't just spam customers or clients without a few rules in place. And as I mentioned before, this is all coming from the FTC website, which I will be linking in the show notes as well. So if you want to know how to reach out to your leads, in a lawful manner, follow along.
Okay, so number one, don't use false or misleading header information, your header information, meaning the fields that read from to and reply to, along with the domain name and email address, those must be accurate to identify the person or business who initiated the message. Alright, so in layman's terms, folks, obviously, the two and reply two fields are going to be accurate. I mean, you would rarely email someone you didn't want to email. But we need to be clear on is who we are, we need our email address to be accurately reflective of the person initiating the message. So for example, my email address is contact at Michael Der photography.com. that lines up with my domain name and my business. If for instance, you are using a work email address from your employer that does not have your name attached to it, and you are reaching out to a new lead, I am inferring from this rule that you may be in violation right off the bat.
Number two, don't use deceptive subject lines, the subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message. Alright, so simply put, it is illegal to use a subject line that would intentionally mislead people about the content matter of your email. So if for instance, you're trying to connect with a new client, you can't just put something down in the header that says urgent news about your order, or update your information here, or just responding to your previous inquiry because none of those things are true. Now we should be thinking of creative subject lines to generate interest from our clients in opening our emails, but not like this. These are sneaky and dishonest methods that nobody respects.
Number three, identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement. Alright, so this is tricky, but I like this idea by an article written in Forbes on this specific guideline, they say you don't need to use the word ad in the subject line or even create an image in the email that calls out that what the recipient is opening is an ad. But per the can spam act, it is required that each business email sent says somewhere that it is an ad. This can be as simple as placing the text at the bottom of the email saying this advertisement was sent by your business name here.
Number four, tell recipients where you're located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address, this can be your current street address, a post office box you registered with the US Postal Service or a private mailbox, you've registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations. Okay, so for me personally, I've never really added my physical address in emails before but it may just become a habit from here on out. You can do this in your email signature if you're cold emailing people, and certainly if you're doing email marketing promotions like newsletters or sales, having your address listed at the bottom is simply a must.
Number five. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future emails from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting emails from you in the future. craft the notice in a way that's easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read and understand. creative use of type, size, color and location can improve clarity give a return email address or another easy internet based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you, you may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. And then lastly, make sure your spam filter does not block these opt out requests. Alright, so there is a lot there to unpack. there's actually nothing I can add to that. The only thing that I might preface that with is that in general, when you're doing email marketing, you can't add people to your email list who have not opted in already. So for instance, if you follow our account on Instagram at entrepreneurs pod, that does not give me the invitation to add you to my email list and email you with promotions because you didn't opt in by submitting your address on our website. So in the end, when you're dealing with clients and you're dealing with customers, people have to voluntarily opt in, and then you have to give them the clear ability to opt out.
number six, on or opt out request promptly. Any opt out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt out request for at least 30 days after you send your message you must Honor recipients opt out request within 10 business days, you can't charge a fee require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an internet website as a condition for honoring an opt out request. Once people have told you that they don't want to receive more messages from you, you can't sell or transfer their email address even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you've hired to help you comply with the can spam act. Alright, so there is not a whole lot more that I can add to that that is very well thought out. The basic concept simply is that if someone opts out, you have to honor that within 10 days.
And lastly, number seven, monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can't contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends a message may be held legally responsible. Alright, so simply put, if you have employees or hired help manage your email marketing for you, the law still states that it is your responsibility to make sure that everyone on your team marketing on your behalf is understanding and compliant of these rules.
Alright, so now that you have somewhat of an overview of what rules are actually in place, why should you actually care at all? Well, if you violate the can spam act, each separate email in violation is subject to penalties of up to $43,792. So clearly, non compliance can be very costly. The next time you're looking to promote your product or service to email marketing, make sure it simply follows a previous criteria.
Now there's a lot more information on the FTC site, they have a lot more in depth examples and scenarios. I don't want to bog you down with all that minutia. For me, I just wanted to eliminate you on this matter, because almost every entrepreneur leverages email marketing in some way. And so the more you understand the principles, and the more you put into action, proper etiquette, the more you're going to stand out as a professional and the less likely you're going to deal with absurd fines. And so this was honestly something I never considered before a week ago. And so I have to give my sincerest thanks to Christina Peters, for bringing this to my attention. I really believe that if you want to be professional in any setting, you have to build professional habits. And because of this knowledge, I will never view cold emails and email marketing the same way again, and I am all the better for it. So that is going to do it for today's episode, folks. I hope you learned something and I hope you're able to take this into your business practice going forward. Thank you for tuning in everyone. And I'll see you guys next week.
Hey everybody, this is Michael Der thank you so much for making it all the way to the end of the episode. I hope you'll follow tag and engage with us on our Instagram account at Artrepreneurspod. We've also launched our website Artrepreneurspodcom. It is the central hub where you can sign up for our newsletter, read our blog posts, send us voicemails, and even access discounts from our amazing affiliates. It's also the perfect spot to shout out Artrepreneurs with what would be an immensely appreciated five star rating and review. And if you're feeling extra generous, you can even make a small donation that's really going to help accelerate the growth of this podcast. But no matter what you do, folks, I just want to say thank you so much for supporting this program. There are a lot of great photography podcasts out there and I am just grateful to have gained your trust even for a moment. Take care everyone. See you next week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai