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Making Marketing Happen Blog

Tips, Tools and Techniques for Making Marketing Happen

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Companies need to take the CAN-SPAM rules seriously.  If you’re not familiar with the law that governs email marketing, here is a summary of it. Back in 2003 Congress passed the CAN-SPAM Act. It sets the standards for bulk emails and commercial messages.  The central provisions are that the sender must provide the recipient with instructions on how to opt out from future communications and needs to “honor opt-out requests promptly.” (The FTC’s words, not mine.)

Legitimate organizations that don’t follow these rules risk seriously tarnishing  perception of their brands. I should know. I experienced an opt-out mini-saga with the US’s leading marketing association and it definitely changed my view of that group.

I went through the marketing organization’s email unsubscribe process THREE times and each time the confirmation page said that I had been unsubscribed successfully! Still, the promotional emails kept coming! It was only after I sent multiple emails directly to the support department that I was finally removed from the email list.

This association exists solely to educate marketers. But, what do you know? It turns out that they neither follow the law, nor practice what they preach to their students. This “do as I say, not as I do” episode has forever damaged my affinity for this brand.  I won’t be signing up for any of their marketing courses, ever!

The takeaway? Companies need to regularly check that their email opt-out processes are working properly. Is the opt-out server integrated with the list server? Does a script run automatically that removes names from the master list or re-tags them properly?  Companies that manage the opt-out process manually should access the removal list and pull the addresses from the master distribution lists at least twice a week and more often if they are frequent emailers.

People who keep receiving unwanted emails get annoyed. The last thing a company wants is for these recipients to mark their emails as “spam”. That can lead to the company being blacklisted by ISPs, an outcome that gets complicated and ugly. So, follow the rules and you will make marketing happen!


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