The Hidden Pitfall: How Small Businesses and Startups May Inadvertently Violate CAN-SPAM Act

By July 5, 2023 No Comments

One common mistake that startup SMBs make, often unintentionally, is violating the CAN-SPAM Act when sending out newsletters or other bulk emails. This usually occurs when businesses manually manage their mailing lists through services such as Microsoft Outlook.

The manual process increases the risk of oversight and mistakes. Some of these potential pitfalls include:

  1. Lack of Consent: CAN-SPAM Act requires explicit consent from the recipient before any commercial emails can be sent. When businesses manually add contacts to their email list, it’s easy to forget or overlook this important step.
  2. No Opt-Out Mechanism: Under the CAN-SPAM Act, every email must contain a clear and conspicuous way for the recipient to opt-out of future emails. Manual mailing lists often lack this feature as it requires additional steps or tools to incorporate.
  3. Misrepresentation: The Act also mandates that the sender cannot use deceptive subject lines or misleading header information. In the haste of sending out a newsletter, businesses might accidentally contravene this guideline.
  4. Missing Physical Address: The CAN-SPAM Act requires businesses to include their valid physical postal address in every email. When sending emails manually, businesses might overlook this detail.

Preventing Inadvertent Violations

To prevent accidental violations of the CAN-SPAM Act, consider the following steps:

  1. Automated Email Software: Invest in an automated email marketing tool. These tools handle consent, opt-out mechanisms, and provide templates that include necessary information like your physical address.
  2. Stay Updated: Regularly review the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act to ensure your emails are compliant. Encourage your team to do the same.
  3. Legal Consultation: Seek advice from legal experts in the field of data privacy and protection to ensure your business’s email practices are compliant.

Remember, while manual methods might seem convenient for a startup, as your business grows, the risks associated with these practices also increase. By investing time and resources into appropriate tools and practices now, you can save your business from potential legal and financial consequences in the future.