CAN SPAM and Unsubscribes

Greg Robinson

Midway though August, the FTC answered some questions about the CAN SPAM Act on their website. Since the act has been in place for some time now there shouldn’t be any big surprises, but I thought this would be worth sharing as an introduction to or refresher on what the act covers.

On a related note, I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind senders to review and test their mailing templates for inclusion of a functional unsubscribe link, allowing recipients to stop receiving all future email from your organization. An interest level opt-out is a great feature, but if it only removes an individual from a specific mailing type but doesn’t suppress them globally it may not be enough to maintain your compliance with CAN SPAM (and CASL to our north, the Australian Spam Act 2003 to our south and others where applicable).

While reviewing your unsubscribe setup, also consider how this information is shared across teams, databases, or other functional divisions within your organization to ensure that you are suppressing them in all mail streams.

Though they are often viewed negatively by senders, I see a few side benefits from unsubscribes; they often include insight into what you can improve as a sender and they are much better than the alternative: spam complaints.

If an individual wishes to unsubscribe but is unable to do so easily from a link within your email, it’s quite possible that they may utilize their email client’s “report spam” button instead. When a recipient reports a message as spam, they are telling their email provider that this sender’s mail shouldn’t be allowed through and excessive spam complaints generated by a sender can very quickly lead to blocking or junk folder placement of future messages from that sender. This means that the people who DO wish to continue receiving your message may not see it either! If one does wish to unsubscribe, let them do so without introducing frustration in the unsubscribe process, which could leave them with a poor impression of your brand.

If you aren’t reviewing your unsubscribe reasons periodically, you may be missing out on some valuable feedback from your subscribers!

About the Author
Greg Robinson

As the Deliverability Manager at Informz, Greg Robinson oversees all client deliverability inquiries, maintains relationships with ISPs and anti-spam entities, and enforces anti-spam policy. Greg educates clients on best practices and strategy, working to correct existing and avoid future delivery issues to maximize deliverability rates.