Not at all. First, we should recognize that both of these consumer-protection measures are really good news. Few people appreciate receiving nuisance or unsavory junk mail, and putting reasonable restrictions on e-mail marketing may actually increase the likelihood of legitimate e-mail marketing getting through. By following the rules and learning what makes e-mail get stuck in spam guards, we can ensure that our promotions reach members' inboxes.
The new FTC regulation focuses on four areas: unsubscribing, legal mailing addresses, definitions and responsibility for joint promotions. But for credit union marketing departments, the most important provision relates to honoring requests to unsubscribe.
If a member chooses to opt out of a sender's e-mail, that request must be honored within three days (instead of the 10 days allowed under the FTC's interim rule). Further, senders may not impose a fee on recipients asking to be removed from an e-mail list, nor can they require recipients to provide any information beyond their e-mail addresses and opt-out preferences. And finally, recipients may not be required to take any steps other than sending a reply or visiting a single page on a Web site.
Other provisions of the regulation involve the following:
Sender. The new rule defines who is a designated sender of e-mails and, therefore, responsible for complying with the CAN-SPAM Act's opt-out requirement. This provision pertains to situations in which two organizations collaborate on promotions or advertising.
Mailing address. The credit union's physical mailing address must be easy to find on its Web site. Or, if either a USPS or private mail box is used, it must be registered according to postal regulations.
Definition of person. The FTC rule added a clarification broadening the term "person" beyond natural persons to include groups, associations and corporations.
Please note that only promotional--not relational or transactional--messages are affected by CAN-SPAM. For more information on the new regulation, go to www.ftc.gov.
While spam filters have become more complex, ensuring that credit unions' messages are delivered is a straightforward process. But it may require adjusting systems or working with e-mail service providers, such as DigitalMailer, that know their way around ISPs worldwide.
Credit unions can go beyond the FTC regulation and ensure deliverability by following these tips:
Preference-based e-mail. Allow members to choose the types of e-mail they wish to receive. Not only does this place your credit union well beyond CAN-SPAM rules, it also ensures you are invited into members' inboxes.
Subject line and content. Stay away from punctuation or words (such as "free," "save" or "buy") that could raise red flags with the subject line. In the body of the message, avoid large images, logos or mastheads, which can take up valuable space or cause the viewer to see red "Xs."
Certification. Make sure your system is certified or safe-listed with leading ISPs. And be sure to remove bad e-mail addresses that ISPs report as not being active.
Spam-check tools. Take advantage of tools that evaluate outgoing e-mail so you can correct messages that could trigger spam guards.
Register. Record your own SPF files to protect against forged sender addresses and to meet the growing list of ISPs requiring this form of identification.
With a few adjustments to make sure your procedures are in compliance and by staying attuned to spam-checker reports, you can continue to provide members with wanted information on special offers or new products.
Ron Daly is president/CEO of DigitalMailer Inc. He can be reached
at 866-994-4900 or firstname.lastname@example.org