How to properly format unsolicited email so it is not considered Spam.

Looking to find out how to properly format unsolicited email so it is not considered Spam? Here's a breakdown of the most important legal requirements.

Disclaimer. This is by no means a thorough, exact list of the legal Can-Spam act requirements. It is meant only as a guideline to let you know what your in for if you are planning to send valid unsolicited business emails, so you can prepare and plan knowing how much work is involve. It is your obligation/responsibility to find up to the minute information regarding your legal responsibilities.

Firstly. What is the CAN-SPAM Act? It's a law in America which sets the rules for commercial emails, establishes requirements for all commercial messages and allows all recipients to choose to have you stop emailing them. Can-Spam spells out tough penalties for violations/violaters.

Each separate email found to be in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, so make sure you take the time to properly prepare your email message. Non-compliance can be costly.

The CAN-SPAM Act covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” this include emails which promote content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must also comply with the law.

It's applicable in the US but is generally a good practice anyway. If you follow Can-Spam guidelines, people who receive your email are generally less likely to mark your emails as spam, and if uninterested, are far more likely to simply choose not to receive them. Make sure you find out about your countries spam laws before you start sending unsolicited business emails.

Here’s a rough rundown of Can-Span’s main requirements:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” and “Reply-To,” must be legitimate. All this information must be accurate and identify the person/business who sent the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must reflect truthfully the content of the message.
  3. Clearly identify the message as an ad. The law gives you plenty of leeway in how to do this, but it must be clearly and conspicuous that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you are physically located. This should be the valid street address of you trading entity. It can be a registered a post office box or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Show recipients how they can opt out of receiving future emails from you. Your message must include an obvious explanation of how the recipient can choose not to get email from you in the future. Make sure it's easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Oh, and make sure your own spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests!
  6. Honour opt-out requests immediately. Any opt-out method you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after your message was sent. You must honour a recipient’s 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 simply sending a reply email or visiting a page on an Internet website for processing opt-out requests. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company whom you’ve hired to help with CAN-SPAM Act compliance.
  7. Keep an eye on what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes it clear that even if you hire another company to take charge of all your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal obligations and responsibilities to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible for their actions.

This is just a guide of the main points. Again check with your governmental authority for up to date legal requirements of sending Spam in your countries/region/state.

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