Email hubris is spamming your friends and
everyone else in your contact database without
their consent. Like trying to resist a danish with coffee in the morning, it is hard to contain your enthusiasm. You want to share the next great product or service with everyone.
To keep you in check from spewing forth endless emails, the Federal Trade Commission issued The Can Spam Act.
What people do not realize is that for every unsolicited email you send out, whether it be in bulk or individually, you are at risk for a fine of $16,000 per unsolicited email.
Let’s face it. We all do it. We meet someone at a Business Card Exchange and enter their email address in our database. Exchanging business cards is not an implicit consent to requesting to be added to your email announcements.
The Can Spam Act ( an act known probably to compliance people, but overlooked by the masses) includes the distribution of all business email, whether sent bulk or individual, that promotes or advertises a commercial product or service. It also includes promoting a website/blog, which advertises a product or service. Even sending emails to former clients must have consent.
The provisions of the Act are not difficult and follow common courtesy. In a nutshell, here are the basics of the Federal Trade Commission’s Guide to Email Etiquette.
1. Be Transparent. You should be truthful when you fill in your “To”, “From”, “Reply to” and subject lines. Deceptive domain names etc. will obviously will get you in trouble. In the Subject Line, avoid using sensational or exaggerated text to get the reader to open the email. Eventually they will find that they were misled. For example: Your subject line reads: “You Won a Trip to Hawaii,” but the email text says you won a chance for a Hawaii trip if you click on any of the what seems like hundreds of advertising options.
2. If your email is an ad, be clear and say so. Ummm. Well, according to the Act, there isn’t much leeway here. It has to be conspicuous and upfront. Use your creativity to get this done.
3. Location. If you are legitimate, you have a location. It can be a post office box. No biggy. Adding this will give your email greater credibility.
4. The Opting Out Issue. You must give the email receiver a way of opting out of receiving your email. It must be clear and easily recognizable. Check other sites and emails for wording. And should you have requests for opting out, you must comply within 10 business days. Just remember you may have the person’s name on a couple of lists, so it is prudent to weed through lists periodically. You are also responsible for those opt out requests that get caught in your spam filter.
5. You are responsible for the emails sent out on your behalf.
For the specifics of the law, check out this website:
Lots of people are not compliant. Lots of people get away with spamming. However, a more pragmatic way to view this is: In the long run, unsolicited email offends your target audience. Aside from the hefty fine, which could break a small business in this economy, it is in your best interest to adhere to FTC rules.
Repetitious emails hawking the same product or service from you is annoying. And if you appear more self serving, you know where your email will go…to JUNK, UNREAD.
These rules aren’t hard because this particular piece of legislature has the distinction of making sense.
As we approach the new year, I see that I have made only baby steps in my writing attempts. I’m embarrassed that I have not written an entry in this blog since September. No excuses. I got swept up in my old habits and let time slip through my fingers.
If you are in need of some serious motivation to break old habits, shake things up a bit because your answer to Dr.Phil’s “How is that working for you?” has you shaking your head, I recommend reading James Arthur Ray’s book Harmonic Wealth. Yes, he is the same dude that is under investigation for deaths at his retreat in Sedona, AZ. (I am not sure why people don’t use common sense when trying new things. People, huddled in a sweat tent, must have known that they were subjecting their bodies to the same environment that animals face locked in a parked car for hours in the summer.) Anyway, if we can surf past this event, and discover what Ray has to say, you might find that there is relevance in his life philosophy and message.
As I read Ray’s book, I liked the fact that the conversational tone wasn’t preachy. He tells you his take on life and what he has learned. His message isn’t new. What is new is his delivery. He is able to explain and connect what happens in everyday life. It is not as random as we might like to believe.
For us busy people, he outlines steps to help you realize what you want and how to get it. As I said, this nothing new. For years business schools have touted the management by objective system, but Ray has broadened the scope to open the potential for success in all areas of life.
For the new year, this book/ CD, which is in libraries, might help you slug through and figure out how to achieve your wildest dreams. So, I have read this book once, listened to the CD, and now look forward to 2010 with renewed enthusiasm for my writing.
Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way, says that if you do a timeline of goals, you will find when you look back 80% will have been realized. So, join me in creating your timeline for 2010. We’ll meet back here next year at this time and see how much has come to pass.
Are you a writer that seeks the company of other writers? Can’t find a group nearby?
I came across a great site for people who want to connect with others with similar interests. Try www.meetup.com. Although I have not joined it yet (my cup runneth over), I did surf through the site and read comments. Since it is a self-directed site, you can be in control. You either join an existing club or form your own. You can search by topic or geography.
Group members often leave their comments about the group. It seems whether you are there to make new friends in the area or joined to talk about a specific topic, almost all the comments were a strong endorsement.
Here’s a review from Bryan-Carey on http://www.viewpoints.com/Meetup-com-review-3b7f
So if you are interested in spreading your wings, try something different. Wouldn’t this make a great venue for a mystery novel?