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Avoiding the CAN-SPAM Pitfalls

July 22, 2008  

"At first glance, the CAN-SPAM Act establishes fairly basic rules for an organization to follow," says a whitepaper produced by ExactTarget. "However, given that this law is constantly evolving … new details and judicial interpretations will surely follow." This means you can't take anything for granted, but instead must proactively respond to ongoing changes. To avoid typical pitfalls, here are a few of ExactTarget's recommendations:

Develop and enforce an enterprise-wide unsubscribe or opt-out process. Says ExactTarget, "Organizations must make a concerted effort to not only implement the proper technology to handle opt-out processes, but also to ensure the philosophy of that opt-out is adopted at every single customer touch point."

Avoid misleading email subject lines. In the past, legitimate marketers encouraged people to open messages with "teasers" like: Your computer may be infected. Today, subject lines like these rarely evade spam filters, and might actually violate CAN-SPAM. "[W]hen in doubt," advises ExactTarget, "marketers should consider the standpoint of 'the reasonable recipient' to determine if a subject line is misleading or could be misinterpreted."

Don't even consider dirty tactics. You shouldn't harvest email addresses, and neither should you engage in dictionary attacks—the practice of guessing at addresses like ajohnson at

Next Tuesday: ExactTarget's tips for CAN-SPAM-directed permission email marketing.

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