First off, which statement do you believe is true?
CAN-SPAM means I can’t buy lists and send emails to people who haven’t opted to receive commercial communications from me.
CAN-SPAM means I can send email to whomever I want as long as I make it possible for them to easily unsubscribe and contact me.
Most people believe it’s the former… when really it’s the latter. The two purposes of the CAN-SPAM act were to protect consumers from receiving misleading communications and to provide consumers the right to decline additional materials from the same source.
So why are bulk email providers cracking down on their requirements for recipient/subscriber lists? Lately, I’ve even seen some that require double opted-in recipients lists. These bulk email providers aren’t upholding CAN-SPAM, as many would like you to believe. They aren’t interested in protecting privacy or upholding laws – they’re interested in making money.
Here’s how it all works. Bulk email providers answer to Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ISPs answer to their customers – individuals like you and me. Bulk email providers want as many ISPs to allow their emails through as possible. This is crucial to their financial success. They need to draw in new marketers looking for bulk email services. ISPs want to make money too; therefore, they want to keep their customers happy. This means they want to make sure they’re not letting through unwanted content or spam.
If individual customers of fill-in-the-blank-ISP-here feel they are being overly bombarded with content that they deem to be spam, they blame their ISP (and may potentially change providers). Who does the ISP blame? They blame the bulk email provider and refuse service to them by blacklisting their emails. Bulk email providers rely on good lists from responsible marketers so they don’t lose access to customers from different ISPs.
Unfortunately, the processes used are not infallible. Sometimes good companies get blacklisted. Sometimes spammers don’t get flagged and bombard ISPs. Sometimes Marketers take the blame for unhappy recipients. Fun fact, statistics show that even people who have double opted in to receive communications from a business will forget they have and will flag for abuse… 1 in 50k emails sent to double opted in lists will receive a complaint.
In case you were wondering, being removed from a blacklist isn’t something easily done. Bulk email providers are trying to protect their business so they are taking it up another notch to stay under the ISP radar.
To summarize, a bulk email provider’s primary concern isn’t upholding the rules of CAN-SPAM; they’re looking to protect their relationships with ISPs so that the majority of their clients can continue to use their services. Marketers must be smart in how they send messages so they don’t cause problems for their bulk email provider.
I know it would be fantastic if we all had meticulously maintained data in our CRMs. It would be stellar if every single person inside of them wanted to hear from us and had double opted in too! It would be phenomenal if all of those people just needed an email from us to realize how wonderful our product/service is and became immediately interested in buying from us. Yeah, well… I don’t know about you, but I have yet to experience this utopia.
So for the rest of us not living on Marketing Cloud 9, we need actionable ways to play nice with bulk email providers while also maintaining the integrity of CAN- SPAM.
As a quick reminder, here are the dos and don’ts of CAN-SPAM:
Here are a few recommendations for those of us working with house lists we’ve inherited with prospect sources unknown, or for those of us working to build house lists by ethically harvesting email addresses.
Good luck and happy campaigning!