Marketing: Email Compliance – Part 1

with Pamela Muldoon

The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted in 2003 to protect consumers from unsolicited, malicious emails. In Part 1 of our Email Compliance series, Anne and Pamela discuss the foundations of commercial email standards, and how to make sure your messages adhere to the seven main requirements of this important law.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Rules of the SPAM-CAN Act of 2003

  2. Unsubscribe compliance

  3. A visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails.

  4. Consumer opt-out requests are honored within 10 business days.

  5. Opt-out lists also known as suppression lists are used only for compliance purposes.

  6. Content compliance

  7. Accurate “From” lines

  8. Relevant subject lines (relative to offer in body content and not deceptive)

  9. A legitimate physical address of the publisher and/or advertiser is present.

  10. A label is present if the content is adult.

  11. Must make it clear that the email is an advertisement

  12. Sending behavior compliance

  13. A message cannot be sent without an unsubscribe option.

  14. A message cannot be sent to a harvested email address.

  15. A message cannot contain a false header.

  16. A message should contain at least one sentence

  17. A message cannot be null.

  18. Unsubscribe option should be below the message.

  19. If you violate the regulations of the CAN-SPAM Act, you can be subject to a fine of up to $43,000.

  20. You can use other domains that you own to send emails from. (Ie,

  21. Using an Email Service Provider helps ensure compliance.

  22. If someone has opted out of your list, you have to ensure you never email them again, or share their email address in any form.

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Full Text of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
Summary of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
Visit Pamela Muldoon’s Website
Badass Editing By Carl Bahner
Recorded on ipDTL


>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.

Anne: Hey everyone, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, and I’m here with marketing maven, content queen Pamela Muldoon. Hey Pamela, how are you?

Pamela: Hey Anne, I’m fantastic. I’m a maven, for goodness’ sake. I can’t get any better than that.

Anne: That’s right, it doesn’t get any better than a maven.

Pamela: That’s right.

Anne: A magnificent maven.

Pamela: Alliteration. You got to love it.

Anne: Magnificent Muldoon Maven. There you go.

[both laughs]

Anne: So Pam.

Pamela: Yes.

Anne: We’ve been talking to our listeners about email, all sorts of tips and tricks for sending communication and content out to your potential clients.

Pamela: Yes.

Anne: I think one thing that we really need to cover, and it’s not often a pleasant topic that people like to hear about, but email compliance, and that’s super, super important, especially when you’re first starting out and marketing, you want to make sure that you’re compliant in sending emails to your potential clients, because you certainly don’t want to incur any legal fines or anything of the sort, but you also don’t want to turn off your potential client, right?

Pamela: And this is, it’s a big topic. Even as we get started on this path, I think for the most part our intentions are always noble, and we don’t mean to do something out of sorts, right?

Anne: Exactly.

Pamela: Knowledge is power. Just being aware and being, you know, having that information in front of you in terms of what you should and should not do. I think you’re going to find that you’re probably doing all of these things, or your email service provider is making sure that you do all of these things.

Anne: Yes.

Pamela: It may not be, I don’t want to put scare, you know, [laughs] a fear into this conversation.

Anne: There should be a certain – well, there should be a certain level of respect. Because I think –

Pamela: Absolutely.

Anne: Sometimes when you send an email out, you’re not necessarily even thinking about the fact, am I being compliant, especially if you’re sending out a cold email. And this, by the way, compliance pertains to both an email coming from your Gmail, your personal account, as well as any of your email service providers. Know that these compliance laws are all in effect to protect people. Let’s go through a few of the compliance from the CAN-SPAM Act, which back in the day, I remember when it came out, because I’m like an old person. And I’ve been on the Internet since 1994.

Pamela: I remember it too, Anne, so are you saying I’m an old person? [laughs] Which I am, and that’s okay.

Anne: 1994, something like that. And I believe that’s when I, my first Gmail account was 1996 or something like that. I could be wrong. But anyway, I digress. I do remember when the Internet became a thing and email became a thing, that there was a period of time where you could just send email, and then obviously at some point, after a few years of growing in popularity, there became abuses of email.

Pamela: Yes.

Anne: And spamming and you know, that would be an interesting story. Do you know how the word spam came about?

Pamela: I don’t. No, I know I’ve heard it, I just at the moment don’t recall.

Anne: So CAN-SPAM came out in, I believe, 2003, is that what I just looked up?

Pamela: 2003, I think 2003, 2004. Something like that, yeah.

Anne: 2003, to help protect people from getting spammed. There are, by the way, if you’re in violation, you can be subject to a penalty of up to $43,280.

Pamela: Ouch.

Anne: Yeah, noncompliance, costly. [laughs]

Pamela: Very much so. That will put a little fear in your heart right there. [laughs]

Anne: But it’s not, but the rules are not that complicated. I think for the most part, these are ones that you probably just know from good email etiquette. But I would say that the very first one, which used to be, I think that’s probably one of the reasons why the rule came into play in the first place, because people were switching their from headers and their to headers and the reply to headers. Rule number one is to not send false or misleading header information. That would mean changing, that would mean changing your from address or your reply to address, to be something other than your actual email address, coming from a different domain. So why did that happen in the beginning, Pamela?

Pamela: Gosh, I don’t recall. [laughs] I don’t, I’m not, I wasn’t –

Anne: Was that from the Nigerian prince?

Pamela: Definitely we all remember those emails that went out. But I think to your earlier point, it was kind of the wild, wild west. Right? So it was building data and information for multiple email domains, right, and the passing of information or selling of information did not have the laws that it has today. The more folks that could have your one email was not a compliance issue at all. It’s a little bit of that bait and switch kind of approach as well.

Anne: Why would people change their from? That’s the question, right? Because they were trying to imply that they were from a different company maybe?

Pamela: Yeah. For sure, right, that whole identity of person, right? Like if you’re receiving it from someone who you think it is, that you already trust that domain, but it’s really not from them, or you know, kind of alludes to, again, it’s mining of data and information in a false way. Most of this stuff, you know again, this does definitely apply if you’re doing just a Gmail send, but if you’re one of those folks who has like a MailChimp, or an ActiveCampaign, or any email service provider, they’re going to have some of this stuff built in so that you have to comply. Does that make sense? [laughs] Which is helpful, I think, right, when you’re trying to put all this stuff together.

Anne: So Pamela, I own multiple domain names.

Pamela: Yes