Compliance! Well, excuuuuuse me…

This video clip compilation from Flight of the Navigator shows how I feel about the CAN-SPAM act.

Many do comply with all the rules and regs, which entire compliance has done nothing but seriously hamper our ability to find new business. But many do not comply.

Supposedly it is against the law to put someone on an email list without their not signing up first. Okay, there’s ways around that with a friendly message that says you aren’t wanting to bug them and hey, see how easy it is to unsubscribe at any time, among other qualifying criteria. Of course, if you’ve done business with them already, then it’s perfectly fine to send since you are communicating with a customer.

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All that is understood. But here’s the reality and the frustration.

Reality One: Companies who are offshore (though you might not know it) do not have to comply with U.S. law, often making make their unsubscribe buttons invisible.

Reality Two: People we meet at networking events who rush back to their computers and put us on their email blasts and we get every campaign they send. Now, I don’t have a problem with that, because I think this is great. Here’s their contact info. Here’s how I can learn more about what they do. Awesomely efficient. Isn’t technology grand? Then comes…

Reality Three: We put them on our email reachout lists thinking they are cool with that because didn’t they add us to their’s first, right? But the first time we send something to them, they are unsubscribing and reporting us as spam.

Well, excuuuuuuse me! Compliance2

I get spam in my inbox from legitimate companies I’ve never done business with. How did they get my email address?

Terms and conditions, baby, that’s how. How many of us actually read the fine print of the privacy notices of those we do business with online? I don’t have the time to do those. Yet with corporate mergers, and this company is a parent of that one but we don’t know it, why with our permissions our email addresses are sold, shared, and bartered. There’s always that little loophole in the T&Cs, right?

However, guess who still allows us to send mail to anybody we please? Why, the United States Postal Service, that’s who. But that’s extremely expensive when trying to attract new customers, as well as hit and miss. Maybe for a delivery pizza joint it’s a payoff, if my home mail is any indication.

But if you’re a B2B company, whew. So many people are moving around in jobs these days their physical and email addresses soon are no good, and sending mail to Occupant or Job Title X just does not always make a good impression.

The CAN-SPAM Act — Controlling the Assault of Non-SolicitedPornography And Marketing Act of 2003 — doesn’t really work, and is not business friendly as written. When it came out, it was so badly written it was even called the “You Can Spam Act”, though that was said by creepy Luddites never happy with anything. In 2005 there were a handful of prosecutions under this act and since 2006 everybody except companies that wouldn’t have spammed you anyway have simply ignored it.

I use MailChimp, an Atlanta (GA) homegrown company, for all my email lists management. I update those lists in situ and let them keep track of the unsubscribes for me. MailChimp (and other companies like them) does their level best to help their clients not run afoul of CAN-SPAM.

A hundred years from now somebody is going to be digging through old law books and find this Act. Parts of it will be added to the “Weird Laws List”, probably next to the law that says it is unlawful to walk your crocodile downtown after dark.

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