What if you accidentally became a criminal with the press of a button? Part of running a small business is sending out marketing emails and other emails every day. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs don’t realize their small business emails are breaking the law until it is too late.

However, that doesn’t have to happen to you. Our quick guide will help you make sure every small business email is perfectly legal. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know!

Get Customer Permission

Some of these tips to keep your small business emails legal are simpler than others. And perhaps the simplest one is to always get customer permission before you begin emailing them.

It’s easy to get confused on this front because the US CAN-SPAM act doesn’t require you to get permission before emailing. And this is why businesses buy email lists even though they shouldn’t (more on this later).

But you must abide by a variety of other anti-spam laws, and having customers opt-in to emails is the easiest way to comply with those laws.

Clearly Identify Yourself

Most of the laws surrounding small business email boil down to a simple rule: don’t mislead your customers. And to avoid misleading anyone, you need to clearly identify yourself.

The easiest way to do this is to add a signature to your marketing emails that gives your name, identifies your business, and provides your physical business address as well as a link to your webpage.

Not only will this keep you compliant, but it will build trust with customers. Otherwise, they may look at your mysterious email like an unfamiliar phone number calling them and simply ignore it!

Honest Subject Lines

Another simple way to avoid misleading customers is to use honest subject lines. While this is simple enough to do, plenty of small businesses give in to the temptation of misleading subject lines as a way to get customers to open the message.

However, that’s a rookie mistake because the open rate of marketing emails is already relatively high. But if customers open up the email and find out you were essentially lying to them with your subject line, they will no longer trust your brand and certainly won’t make a purchase.

Let Them Opt-Out

Perhaps the firmest law governing marketing emails in America and throughout the world is this: you must give customers an easy way to opt-out of unwanted emails.

There are many ways to do this. Sometimes, the email software you are using can automatically include opt-out links. Alternatively, if you are working with a good email marketing partner, they can easily help you add such links to your messages.

If you don’t want to use software, you can also create a Google form and link to it. The most important thing is letting people easily opt-out.

Make It Clear This Is An Advertisement

Remember when we said you need an honest subject line? On a related note, the law requires that you let customers know that this is an advertisement.

Fortunately, the law doesn’t prescribe how you should do this, so your business has room to get very creative on this front. And you certainly don’t want to put “this is an advertisement” in your subject line because that is likely to keep people from clicking on it.

Ultimately, though, this hurdle is easy enough to clear. Making an advertisement look and feel less like an advertisement is one of the basic lessons of marketing!

Keep Good Records

Everyone’s familiar with the old philosophical question: if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it actually make a sound?

When it comes to your small business and the law, you should be asking another question. If you complied with the law but have no records of doing so, then are you actually legally protected?

The answer to that is “no.” This is why you should not only ask customers for consent to send them marketing emails but store those records. As long as you have a record of what you told them, what their response was, and when they agreed to receive these messages, you should be fine.

Honor Opt-Out Requests Quickly

Earlier, we talked about the legal requirement of letting customers opt-out of email marketing. However, one thing many small businesses don’t know how fast you must act once a customer has opted out.

Legally, you have 10 days to remove that person from your email list. After that, you can no longer send them any messages unless they opt back in.

While the 10-day requirement may sound annoying, it simply forces you to do something you should already be doing: paying close attention to your digital marketing efforts and the response of your customers.

Beware Email Lists

When you first begin sending marketing emails, the idea of buying email lists seems too good to be true. For just one small fee, you can add hundreds or thousands of email addresses to your lists!

But the truth is that you should avoid doing so. While you are not legally forbidden from buying such a list, doing so will create additional compliance issues for you.

For example, you still need to get people to opt-in after you buy the list. Otherwise, you could end up emailing someone that has previously opted-out and find yourself in violation of the law.

And if we’re being honest, random names on an email list are not that likely to respond well to your marketing. We recommend growing your email list organically and working with a good marketing partner to grow it.

Right Email Marketing Partner For Your Small Business Emails

To both stay compliant with the law and convert customers, you need a solid marketing partner for your small business emails. And that’s where Vertical Response comes in.

We offer many robust features, including automated follow-ups and autoresponders. And we can also help with things like landing page design and A/B testing.

In short, we’re here to take your digital marketing to the next level. To see what we can do for you, come check out our prices and begin your free trial!

© 2021, Chris Duncan. All rights reserved.

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