B2B vs B2C E-mail Rules
A : GREAT Question, and to be honest, we’ve heard both schools of thought, too. After spending lots of time perusing the CAN-SPAM act language, our position is that there really are not any different rules governing mailing to consumer addresses vs. business addresses.
And, yes you CAN prospect to business addresses. But know that you’ll probably never actually take possession of prospect’s e-mail addresses. For example, it’s rare that an organization that collects business e-mails (be they a trade association, a cataloguer or a magazine) will let you take possession of their list of customer e-mails. They may, however, send out your message for you (for a fee, of course).
We definitely approve of a multi-channel approach and like to include e-mail wherever it makes sense. If you follow the following 7 points of the CAN-SPAM Act, you should be fine. We urge you to visit the FTC website and review their language yourself. We’ve summarized the CAN-SPAM requirements below.
The Seven Requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act
- There must be a clear and conspicuous remove function available to the recipient for 30 days after the email was sent. This is also known as an “Opt Out” function. You want to en-sure that you’ve given your client the option of receiving or choosing not to receive emails from you.
- You’ll need to develop and enforce an unsubscribe or opt out process. This will have to be accomplished both technically, as well as within your e-mail marketing pieces. You’ll need to check to ensure that you are technically prepared to manage and maintain customer “opt-out” suppression lists. And you’ll need to ensure that you have the ability to communicate back to the cli-ent in the required timeframes that you’ve received their re-quests and will place them on your suppression list so that they no longer receive correspondence with you.
- You must be able to implement opt-out requests within 10 business days. Opt-outs must be communicated to all customer contact points within your company, added to your suppression lists, and communicated back to the client within this 10 business day requirement.
- You must be able to provide a valid physical postal address of the sender so that potential clients or prospects can mail you their request for opting out. The law requires just a postal address. However, it is important to note that the Direct Marketing Asso-ciation (DMA) requires a physical address, i.e. cannot be a PO Box.
- The CAN-SPAM Act requires that you clearly “label” your email as an advertisement. This is not required for those who have already opted in to receive information from your company. This requirement is for those non-opted-in clients and for all prospect emailing campaigns. You can use the “reason-able-ness” test here . . . in other words, would the average per-son consider this e-mail to be an advertisement? If so, you’re probably fine. There is no hard law that you have to actually use the word “advertisement” in your subject line.
- You must use a valid sender or header information. We’ve all received those illegal messages from Spammers and seen the creative ways that they’ve tried to combat Spam programs by us-ing words in the sender and subject lines that have nothing to do with the “weight loss” or “body part enhancement” message that the e-mail contains. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that both of these fields are not misleading or false in any way.
- You must use valid subject information. As referenced in number 6, the Subject line must reflect the intent of the e-mail message and not be misleading in any way.
Finally, on a related topic, we thought you might be interested in today’s post from our other blog (Direct Marketing). Here, we’ve reported on some new research that shows how consumers perceive SPAM. As a marketer, I think that there are some surprising findings…