Why CAN-SPAM Compliance Isn’t Enough for the Email Industry

An oft-repeated phrase I see in my capacity in handling email compliance is “But we’re CAN-SPAM compliant!” as a justification for sending unsolicited emails to prospects. Being CAN-SPAM compliant is merely doing the bare minimum under the law, and simply isn’t enough for the overall email sending community.

Say there’s a law in place that requires people to wear clothes to work. Someone in your office never takes a shower, but still wears clothes to work. They’re doing the bare minimum under the clothes law, but it’s not enough for the overall community to want to work with this person, because they smell terrible. Saying you are compliant under CAN-SPAM is equivalent to being that coworker who wears clothes, but never showers. Legally, you’re covered (though I’m not a lawyer, so that’s not legal advice!) , but nobody’s going to be interested in getting your mail delivered. Doing the minimum requirements under CAN-SPAM won’t help achieve your ultimate goal of getting your emails to the inbox and ultimately driving sales.

Let’s take a look at some of the requirements for being CAN-SPAM compliant, taken from the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business.

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  3. Identify the message as an ad.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

Notice something missing? Permission! No part of the law requires clients provide explicit permission to allow sending them email. With spam defined as unsolicited bulk email, the CAN-SPAM act doesn’t actually stop spammers from sending mail. It just makes it easier to identify marketing emails. Under CAN-SPAM, you can still send whatever unsolicited emails you want and thus be a spammer, but remain in compliance with CAN-SPAM.

So if spamming is technically legal, why does Pardot enforce a permission-based marketing policy? This policy is in place not only to protect our sending reputation and that of our clients, but it is also explicitly designed to be significantly stricter than the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. It was designed that way both in compliance with industry standards and to ensure that if current spam laws change, our clients are covered appropriately without experiencing any major upheaval of business processes. It also ensures our sending reputation, and that of our clients, stays as high as possible, thus providing the highest deliverability possible.

90% of all sent email is considered a spam message and never makes it to client inboxes. In addition to staying in compliance with local laws, the best way to keep your deliverability high and your spam complaints low is to make sure all of your mailings are solely permission based!

Want more information on email deliverability? Download the full handbook by clicking below!

email deliverability handbook