Ooops, I Violated the Anti-spam Regulations. Now What?

How bad CAN it be to NOT follow the anti-spam regulations with an e-newsletter?  A slap on the wrist?  A warning?  Believe it or not, it could be a fine of up to $1 million per violation!

Most of us are aware that there are anti-spam regulations in Canada and the US, and that it is important to stay within the regulations with our e-newsletters and other email marketing.    What happens if you violate the regulations with your e-newsletter?

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation is being revised but currently business owners can fined as much as $1 million per violation, and up to $10 million per violation for corporations.  It’s definitely worth paying attention to your email marketing processes!

What do you need to know to stay within the guidelines?

Use these best practices to protect your business and your subscribers.

  • Ensure you have explicit permission to add an email address to your newsletter/mailing list.  That means it’s not enough to collect a business card, or an attendee list at an event.  Future regulations may also require that you keep a record of where, when and how you obtained permission, so start collecting this information now and be a step ahead.
  • Ensure that your e-newsletter or other email marketing has an easy unsubscribe process.  Best practices advise using a one-step unsubscribe process – the subscriber simply clicks on an unsubscribe link and removes their email address from any/all mailing lists from your business.  If you currently have a process where the subscriber has to send you an email with “unsubscribe” in the subject line, you will most likely end up with an unhappy subscriber.  And, you’ll have to manually unsubscribe their address too – it’s time intensive, and less professional than an automated process.  Most people I’ve spoken to will NOT unsubscribe if they have to send an email, instead they may just block the email.  The more people who block your email address, the higher the potential for your email address to be flagged as a spammer!
  • Do not share your mailing list with anyone!  Do not accept mailing lists from anyone else!  If you decide to do a joint venture with another business in order to market to both mailing lists, share your marketing.  You send to your list with an offer for them to subscribe to your partner in the venture, and your partner does the same with their list.  Now each subscriber has the option to subscribe to the other list.

For me, the bottom line is to make things easy.  Easy for subscribers (they can choose to subscribe or unsubscribe without having to contact you), easy for mailing list managers (automation means less time on administration), and easy for the business owner (happy customers mean happy sales).  Funny thing about “easy”, it often results in higher satisfaction for everyone!


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