Tuesday, February 5, 2008
If you were looking for some advice from someone who talks to companies sending email, and ISPs receiving email, all day long every day – today's your lucky day! I'm in the mood to share.
Today's advice is on what NOT to do; what NOT to say when talking to an ISP or other site that receives mail from you or your clients.
Don't say: My emails are CAN-SPAM compliant.
If you do say it: You will be scorned. You'll attract derision. At the very least, you're going to make an ISP or spam filterer roll their eyes at you.
Why? Because everybody sending any form of legitimate (or sometimes even illegitimate) mail is CAN-SPAM compliant. Citing this as a reason that an ISP should accept your emails is a lot like bragging that your email has a subject line.
“So?” The ISP employee will ask themselves. “Do they expect a gold star for doing what everybody else does?” From the ISP perspective, only bad guys (and misinformed good guys) tout their CAN-SPAM compliance.
CAN-SPAM allows you to send spam, if you follow certain rules. Right away, your announcement makes them wonder, are you a spammer? Bad guys tell them all the time, “I don't spam, because my mail is CAN-SPAM compliant.” That's practically a non-sequitur. It just doesn't make any sense. CAN-SPAM makes little reference to permission best practices. It practically allows spam. Telling the world that you shouldn't be considered a spammer because you comply is telling the world, “I am not a spammer because I comply with a law that allows me to send spam!” It's not a great message to send. It does not set you apart, and it doesn't convey the true adherence to opt-in best practices that ISPs require to ensure they'll accept your mail.
CAN-SPAM compliance is such a bare minimum as to be useless for describing your email practices. Your send practices have to be CAN-SPAM compliant, sure. But that's far from enough. It takes a lot more than just CAN-SPAM compliance to get an ISP to accept your mail.
ISPs block millions of CAN-SPAM compliant messages daily. They do not care that your messages are compliant with CAN-SPAM. They care only if your mail is desired by their customers, your recipients. That means opt-in; clear opt-in, with details. That means up front signup disclosure regarding who you are, what you'll be sending, and how often. It means proper management of bounces and unsubscribes. It means keeping your list engaged.
Even worse, when you mention CAN-SPAM to an anti-spam group, they usually stop responding to you, or refuse to remove you from a blacklist, or at the very least, they're going to laugh at you. They've heard it all before. After all, the vast majority of people who proudly announce their CAN-SPAM compliance are ... spammers! Don't sound like a spammer, and don't be a spammer.
That's what you need to say, and that's what you need to do.