Articles on: Privacy & Security

Legal Requirements for Email Marketing ✉

Sending emails is an incredibly powerful marketing solution. It’s a cost-effective way to build and maintain a relationship with your customers, but it can also end up costing you if you’re not meeting your legal obligations.

Noticeable applies, suggests or enforces best practices to comply with all anti-spam laws and make your emails legal wherever you send them. Our goal is that you focus on content and not on legal or technical flows, thus saving you time and money.

What are the laws around email marketing?

There are number of different laws that guide the use of email marketing for commercial purposes. It’s the CAN-SPAM act in the US, the CASL laws in Canada, a set of laws known as the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations of 2003 for the UK, or more generally the GDPR in Europe.

All of these laws dictate a number of conditions that email marketers need to follow to avoid significant fines. While this may sound intimidating, if you’re a legitimate business using a proper email marketing tool like Noticeable to send legitimate emails, you are likely already complying with the rules.

What do you need to do to comply?

The following is a simple list of things marketers like you can do to ensure your emails are compliant with all the laws across the globe.

1. Ensure you have permission to email the people on your list

Most country's email marketing laws stipulate that people need to give you permission to email them in order for you to send them messages.

The definition of permission varies between each country’s laws, but there are generally two types of permission: implied permission and express permission.

Implied permission describes those with whom you have an existing business relationship. This could be because they are a current customer, donate to your charity, or are an active member of your website, club, or community.

If you don't have implied permission to email a person, then you'll need express permission. Express permission is granted when someone specifically gives you permission to send them emails, potentially by entering their email address in a subscribe or newsletter form.

2. Include your address

Most countries’ email marketing laws stipulate that you must clearly include a valid postal address for your business in your emails. This can be your current street address, a postbox address, or an address with a registered commercial mail-receiving company.

3. Don’t use misleading header information

“Header information” refers to the extra information sent along with your email campaign, such as the “from” name, subject line, and reply-to address.

Email marketing laws stipulate that you must not include incorrect or misleading information in these fields to try to trick people into opening your emails.

4. Identify your email as an advertisement

CAN-SPAM laws stipulate that you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that your message is an advertisement.

The law gives a lot of leeway in how you do this, and you don’t need to specifically state “This email is an advertisement” every time you send a campaign. It’s more about not purposely deceiving your recipients into thinking this is a personal email.

For instance, Sephora does an excellent job of this with their emails. They don’t specifically state an email is an advertisement, but, by using their company name as the "from" name and having “Get 20% Off All Eye Shadow” as the subject line, they make it clear to recipients that this is a promotional message and not a personal email from a friend.

5. Include a way to opt-out of receiving future emails from you

Most countries’ email marketing laws stipulate that your emails include a clear and conspicuous mechanism for opting out of receiving emails from you in the future, and that this mechanism is easy for an ordinary person to recognize and understand. The default Noticeable email templates manage this for you.

6. Honor opt-out requests promptly

The CAN-SPAM laws stipulate that you must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days, and that you cannot charge a fee to opt them out, 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 to opt out. Emails sent from Noticeable include a unique unsubscribe link that recipients can use to unsubscribe immediately.

7. Other things email marketers need to know

By following the tips mentioned above, you can ensure your emails are compliant with global anti-spam laws. However, not every situation is the same, and there are a number of technicalities in these laws that are worth mentioning in case they apply to your specific situation. These include:

You’re responsible even if you’re not sending emails yourself

According to the law, even if you are outsourcing your email marketing efforts to a third party (i.e., a web design or marketing agency or a freelance contractor), you are still responsible for ensuring the emails being sent on behalf of your business are compliant.

So, if you do outsource the creation and sending of your emails, make sure that you review them before sending to be certain the above tips have been followed.

Similarly, if you are an agency creating emails on behalf of your clients, make sure you’re following the tips mentioned above to prevent getting your clients in trouble and losing their business.

Email laws are looser for transactional emails

A majority of the anti-spam laws around the world are designed to guide the sending of commercial email marketing messages, and they apply to any sort of newsletters, marketing announcements, or promotional emails your business might be sending.

An area that is largely exempt from these laws, however, is transactional emails. So, if you’re sending order confirmations, shipping confirmations, password reset emails, etc. (which are designed to provide information about an existing purchase or membership), then these specific emails are exempt from the anti-spam rules mentioned above.

A lot of the tips presented in this guide are also general best practices that help prevent your recipients from perceiving your emails as suspicious, so it’s best to incorporate them into your transactional emails anyway.

Updated on: 03/14/2022

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