Can I use e-mail as part of my business's direct marketing?

June 15, 2005
Business First

E-mail is a valuable tool in this day and age for many businesses' direct marketing campaigns. E-mail is an inexpensive and efficient way to target potential customers, especially for small businesses.

E-mail marketing is not without risks, however. Any business considering the use of e-mail in its direct marketing campaign must be aware of the Federal CAN -SPAM Act of 2003. The CAN-SPAM Act became effective at the beginning of 2004, but many small businesses may not be fully aware of its provisions.

The CAN -SPAM Act requires all unsolicited commercial e- mails to include:

Other requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act include:

The requirements of the CAN -SPAM Act are not difficult, but they do pose some pitfalls. For example, if you fail to honor an opt-out request, or someone in your business unknowingly places an opt-out name back on the mailing list, you can be subject to fines. The CAN -SPAM Act includes both civil and criminal penalties, including sizeable fines, so it is important to ensure compliance. Plus, if your business is tagged as an e-mail offender by an internet service provider, you may be in the unfortunate situation of having that provider screen all of your e-mail, whether sent for marketing purposes or in the regular course of business.

If you do decide to use e-mail as a part of your marketing, here are some tips to ensure compliance with the CAN -SPAM Act:

E-mail can be a powerful tool for marketing in this increasingly electronic age. You can incorporate e-mail into your marketing plan so long as you are careful to comply with the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act.

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