Unsurprisingly, the new U.S. anti-spam law has had no effect whatsoever.
Commtouch, a provider of anti-spam solutions, said it saw no significant change in the number of spam attacks in the first week of 2004, and that less than 1% of all bulk email complied with the new CAN-SPAM regulations.
Although Commtouch notes it is too early to tell, as spammers are still on holiday, I’ve noticed no slowdown at all. This is not unexpected, since most spammers operate outside the law – when was the last time you had a legitimate-looking junk email that was not trying to disguise itself?
But it’s not just the really sleazy guys still doing it. MX Logic, another anti-spam provider, looked at a random sample of over 1,000 unsolicited commercial emails during the course of a seven day period beginning New Year’s Day and found only three of the messages complied with the CAN-SPAM Act. “Calling this a high rate of non-compliance would be a gross understatement,” said Scott Chasin, MX Logic’s chief technology officer. “It is no surprise that rogue spammers would fail to comply, but the non-compliant messages we saw appeared to be from all types of companies.”
This could be just reputable (I use the term loosely) email marketers not getting up to speed on something that was only signed into law on December 16. If you are an email marketer and you do want to comply, here’s a checklist of what you should do, courtesy of Intermark Media, itself a an email marketer (the list is somewhat revealing to us normal folk, in that it shows what kind of tricks spammers tend to do to give the impression everything is hunky dory and that, at some point of personal weakness, we actually agreed to receive spam from them):
— Collect this information on every member of your opt-in database: IP address, date and time of opt-in, and source URL of sign-up.
— Be wary of any list managers who do not require this sensitive information from you as it is of crucial importance that all parties involved have it.
— Provide a clear opt-in process for the consumer.
— Upon receiving a customer’s permission to send offers you should notify them of their consent. This also allows the consumer to become double opt-in or unsubscribe from receiving any offers.
— Upon receiving a database to manage always run a permission email to the database in order to notify the consumers that you are the source of the emails they will be receiving and this will allow them to unsubscribe from your mailings or become double or even triple opt-in.
— Never change the headers that you send emails from.
— Use valid and relevant from and subject lines for all campaigns.
— Do not use misleading subject lines for any purposes, including creating new responsive lists from recipients that open or click on a campaign.
— If you receive a subject line you feel is questionable ask the advertiser to provide another one.
— Make sure the email address you are sending campaigns from is valid and working.
— In the footer, provide an explanation of why the consumer is receiving the ad.
— In the footer, provide your company’s valid postal address. If you are managing a client’s list, make sure their address appears as well.
— Make sure every campaign has a valid, working and obvious unsubscribe mechanism that easily removes the consumer from your database.
— Keep a real-time update of unsubscribes and remove them from your database and the databases of all parties involved.
— Do not email to consumers who unsubscribe from your database.
— Do not allow others to email to consumers who have unsubscribed from your database.