Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Uncle Sam Should Damn Spam

US anti-spam law hampers marketers, says email marketing expert Chad White.

The feds agree, and are moving to reform CAN-SPAM.

The problem with the law?

It's lax.

That laxity makes "deliverability overly difficult for legitimate senders," White says, because email providers have to police inboxes.

"If a brand only clears the low bar set by CAN-SPAM, they are pretty much guaranteed to be blacklisted and blocked by inbox providers," White says.

"While on the surface, lax regulations look like an advantage to American brands, it’s really setting them up for failure."

White urges these seven reforms:
  • Tighten the deadline for honoring opt-out requests. Marketers, by law, can now stall for 10. But customers want them to honor opt-outs immediately.

  • Dictate how unsubscribe works. Customers struggle with marketers' inconsistent practices; as a result, one in two resorts to clicking the “Report Spam” button.

  • Loosen the definition of "transactional" emails. Marketers should be allowed to send post-purchase emails (such as receipts, thank-you notes, and renewal notices) without be being flagged as spammers.

  • Require CAPTCHA on signup forms. "Unprotected open email signup forms allow spammers, hackers, and other bad actors to use bots to weaponize email," White says. Only 3% of marketers use CAPTCHA on their forms today.

  • Mandate authentication and encryption. Email personalization makes customers vulnerable to phishing. CAN-SPAM could protect them by mandating that senders authenticate and encrypt emails.

  • Require permission. That requirement would harmonize CAN-SPAM with other countries' tougher laws, and keep US marketers out of hot water. Permission is defined as "an expressed or implied consent or existing business relationship."

  • Stipulate that inactivity equals opting out. " CAN-SPAM should recognize that permission expires," White says. "CAN-SPAM should require senders to stop emailing subscribers when they haven’t opened or clicked an email in the past two years."
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