Ask Lisa Your Questions about marketing, copywriting, branding and advertisingQ: What exactly is considered email SPAM when sending email? 

A: Excellent question. In short form, any unsolicited commercial email is considered SPAM. So, if you are sending an email for your business without permission and adding people to your email list for promotional purposes, you are basically breaking the law.

What many people don’t realize is that email is regulated by Federal law.  It’s highly advised that you read through the official CAN-SPAM Act on the Federal Trade Commission website.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer but here are some ways you can ensure you’re NOT breaking the law when it comes to email marketing.

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In order to be CAN-SPAM compliant here are some things you can do.

  1. Invest in a platform that provides professional email service. You can explore companies like AWeber, MailChimp or Constant Contact (there are many others and you’ll want to research based on your business strategy and technical capabilities/needs)
  2. Only send commercial and promotional email to people who have requested the email by opting in.  Opting in means they signed up on your website by using a contact form and requested that you send them information. Do not add anyone to your list without permission even if their email address is publicly displayed. For example, Some people “scrape” email addresses from LinkedIn as a way to try to prospect new business. This is SPAM and truly poor form.
  3. Don’t buy or sell email addresses. You’re never 100% sure where a purchased list came from and if you sell your contact information that ‘s a direct violation of trust.
  4. Always include your physical mailing address on all email messages and on your website. This is also required by law. Plus, it adds another element of trust when people know where your office is located (note: if you work from a home office, it’s advised to use a P.O. box or UPS Store address so you don’t attract unwanted visitors)
  5. Always include an unsubscribe button or a way to easily unsubscribe.  Sending email messages with no way to opt-out is very bad form.
  6. Once someone unsubscribes from your list NEVER email them again. It’s required that you comply within 10 days and most professional email services will give unsubscribers a way to tell you why they are opting out.  If you are SPAMMING, they can also report you for that.
  7. Permission-based email and internet marketing is the best way to protect your professional reputation. Bonus tip: When in doubt ask if someone is interested in what you want to share. Don’t add people to your Facebook groups without permission either. While adding people to your FB groups without permission isn’t a direct violation of CAN-SPAM it’s annoying and rude. In many cases, you can damage your reputation by tossing people into groups without asking first.

Are you using permission-based email marketing techniques to avoid email SPAM? Have you ever experienced SPAM?  Leave your stories here in the form of a comment or reply.

Do you have questions about branding, copywriting, and marketing? Submit your questions here and I might just blog the A to your Q.  AND, be sure to grab your FREE Copywriting Action Plan to help you improve your marketing messages here.

Lisa Manyon is "The Business Marketing Architect," a content strategist for mission-driven entrepreneurs. She's the creator of the values-based "Challenge. Solution. Invitation.™" communication framework to create marketing messages with integrity by focusing on PASSION points (as seen in Inc. Magazine). She specializes in reverse engineering your most powerful solutions into profitable revenue streams. She offers coaching, consulting, copywriting training, and strategies to effectively market your business. Her content strategy plans are known to produce million-dollar results. She’s a #1 international bestselling author and award-winning speaker available to teach, train, and transform your audience with interactive Business Breakthrough Boutiques. She offers business-building resources on her award-winning blog.