Nobody likes SPAM and there is legislation enacted in many countries to prevent people from deliberately sending spam. If you are sending out emails or running a subscription list, it’s important that you understand your obligations under the laws of the countries you operate in.
To help you stay out of gaol this article will help you with the basics of anti-spam laws and cover some of the things you must watch when sending email marketing.
What you must be aware of is that the laws that have been enacted have serious penalties for abuse and many lead to fines or more if these rules are broken. In addition, breaking anti-spam legislation is bad for your company and your reputation, so it’s in your best interests to spend some time getting it right.
SPAM is unwanted bulk email whether you consider them junk or not, sent to a list of people who have not subscribed or requested they be sent that message. It’s unsolicited, like the junk mail that can end up in your physical mailbox at home.
Bulk email is generally sent in some automated way, but it can also include being blind carbon copied to a large distribution list. The biggest part is whether the person agreed to having that email sent to them, by you. If they didn’t consent, then your message can fairly be categorised as SPAM.
Many hosting providers and email service now actively scan for SPAM messages, and will filter your message so it ends up in a user’s junk folder in their mailbox. In cases where the abuse is more severe the recipient server may block the sending server altogether – so it’s critical that you understand and abide by anti-spam laws.
If you use Asporea Hosting servers you are not permitted (and are actively restricted) from sending bulk email. All messaging is logged and any abuse is considered a breach of our hosting terms and conditions. Any reputation damage as a result of sending bulk email may result in financial penalties to fix breaches.
This means that if you want to send bulk email, then you must use a dedicated provider. Asporea has a dedicated service called PDQ for this purpose, or you can use a third-party service like Mailchimp.
These services are specifically designed to manage bulk-email marketing lists, and send emails in a compliant way. These days most legislation requires users to actively opt-in to your mailing list. This means that you cannot subscribe people yourself because you ‘think’ they might like what you have to say. If you do this then you are spamming them. They must actively choose to receive your email.
Under EU’s GDPR legislation – considered some of the most strict – you must also not pre-tick opt-in boxes to auto-subscribe a customer unless they opt out. This is also against the law. This means there aren’t any clever tricks to get subscribers.
And don’t even try purchasing a list. An absolute deal-breaker in anyone’s language!
And with Opt-in, comes the requirement for users to be able to quickly and simply opt-out of receiving your emails when they no longer want them. This means at minimum an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email, which automatically unsubscribes on click.
As best practice you shouldn’t make it difficult for people to opt out – for example, by expecting a user to remember a stale username and password in order to change their subscription preferences. One click to unsubscribe is the industry standard and that’s what you need to follow.
If you do any less than this, then people are likely to use the junk mail filter on their inbox -and this is really bad for your sender reputation. If you get too many strikes then you will be unable to send email at all to these lists – and email filters will block your messages regardless of whether your list is clean or not.
As you can see, being anti-spam compliant is more than doing things right. It’s about your reputation, your ability to send and your obligations under international spam laws. It pays to spend some time understanding your responsibilities.