Privacy has become a hot topic among marketers and business owners alike. In this new age of transparency, consumers are more keenly aware of how their data is being used, and streamlining their experience with unwanted touch points from cold emails, spam content, and more. Business owners can stay ahead of the game by creating their campaigns with CANSPAM compliance and regulations in mind. They can also protect themselves from $46,517 in fines per email sent. 

Below, we’re covering a list of best practices for CANSPAM compliance that business owners can reference for their next campaign. We’ll also explore the implications of CANSPAM in business text campaigns. 

What is CANSPAM? 

CANSPAM is an acronym for the Congress-enacted Controlling the Assault of Non-solicited Pornography and Marketing Act. This Act was passed in 2003 as email became more popular, as spam campaigns had been completely out of control. It was designed to protect consumers in the U.S., and enforce more responsible emailing practices for businesses, organizations, and third parties. Today, business owners can continue to benefit by familiarizing themselves with the regulations, and ensuring that their campaigns remain in compliance. 

What are CANSPAM requirements for business owners? 

The requirements put forth in CANSPAM do not just apply to consumer inboxes. They actually can be applied to any form of electronic communication from a third party to a consumer. Below, we’ve listed the requirements for CANSPAM compliance that business owners should apply to any form of electronic communication.

1. Ad attribution

When a piece of mail is sent to someone’s inbox, from a business, it must be explicitly clear that it is an ad. This can get particularly confusing with the rise of influencer marketing over the past few years, especially for smaller or newer businesses. The common thought (and risk) is that by obscuring the fact that the email or campaign is an ad, you may be able to win more purchases. This is not the case and can put you at risk for non-compliance. 

Businesses should take every effort to attribute the email, text, or other forms of communication as an ad for the intent of sale. Simple ways to do this include: 

  • Using the #ad or #sponsored hashtags in social media posts, DMs, and influencer marketing campaigns as applicable 
  • Using branded headers and footers 
  • Using consistent branding across your campaign messaging and assets 

You can use this requirement to your advantage, and create eye-catching graphic headers and footers that will build your brand perception over time. It also encourages marketers to get creative with targeting design and copy to appeal to new audiences. If you’re looking to boost your conversions, be sure to check out our guide to raising your email open rates. 

2. Communication transparency in messaging

When you formulate the messaging for your email campaigns, best practices recommend writing from the POV of your brand. This helps consumers to understand that the purpose of this communication is for a sale, which will allow them to take the liberty of opting out and optimizing their preferences if they no longer want to receive communications. You can minimize the risk of excessive opt-outs by optimizing your email marketing list process and using sublists to make your outreach more effective.  Other ways to reinforce transparency in messaging across your campaigns include: 

  • Listing your website and business address in your template 
  • Using branded assets, headers, and footers as applicable 
  • Using a clear POV when you write, speaking on behalf of the brand 
  • Using clear and accurate subject and preview lines
  • Using lists and sublists of subscribers to appeal to different audiences

You must also adhere to the opt-out stipulations in the act, which specify that consumers must be allowed to halt communications at any time. Often, businesses put the opt-out information and links in the footer or toward the bottom of the email. You can also use this area to directly link to the organization’s privacy policy, which can further build the bridge of trust between brand and consumer. If you haven’t created a business-specific privacy policy, you should. This can protect you from infringement accusations and give consumers total transparency in knowing how their data will be used. 

3. Adhering to consumer preferences 

Once a customer opts out, businesses must have a reliable way to respect the selected consumer preferences. This can normally be done with automation within the business’ CRM and should be regularly tested and monitored for proper function. Platforms for electronic communication have their own specific steps and processes to honor email and text campaign opt-outs, which can often be done en masse to save your time and resources. Software and platforms publish specific guides for business owners that illustrate how to build this out. If you haven’t yet built this element of your customer automation, it’s important to do so as soon as possible. 

Does CANSPAM apply to text campaigns? 

Certain stipulations of the CANSPAM Act do apply to text campaigns used for marketing purposes. However, the main role of the CANSPAM Act for text message marketing is that it allows the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enact rules at any time to protect consumer privacy within the scope of text message campaigns. In 2022, the primary governing Act that covers consumer marketing is the TCPA — otherwise known as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. 

The purpose and tenets of this Act are nearly identical to the CANSPAM compliance regulations, but specifically apply to and govern the use of unsolicited text messages and telephone communication for the purpose of sale. Both Acts are relevant to marketers and business owners who want to use email and text campaigns for marketing purposes. 

For best results and to assure your compliance with CANSPAM and TCPA, you should always consider working with a trained professional marketer. These strategists can help you to create compelling and competitive email campaigns. Visible Factors is passionate about creating marketing solutions that are tailored to your business. For more information, and to book your free consultation today, please visit our website.

About the Author: Christina Levandowski

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