How the CAN-SPAM Act is Creating Foul Play in Digital Marketing

In this week’s Brain Boost, how the CAN-SPAM Act is creating foul play in digital marketing.

You’re going to learn about a disturbing new practice in black hat digital marketing that’s being used by bad actors to bring down the email list of small and medium-sized businesses in the US and abroad.

The CAN-SPAM act was signed into law in 2003 and it’s designed to regulate the use of commercial email. So think: email marketing in the US. Since then, similar laws have been put into place in almost all major economies.

So, now email marketing services that many of us know about (like MailChimp) are forced to take action when any company sends an email campaign that’s considered especially spammy. However, it’s worth noting that this really isn’t working with real spammers who are responsible for sending the bulk of spam emails.

So, those emails that tell you that you have a hundred thousand dollars in a bank account in some foreign land -about 90 billion of which are sent every day- are usually coming from software located in countries with poor law enforcement -not services like MailChimp.

To comply with these laws, services like MailChimp have adopted a .1% rule. What this means for small and medium-sized businesses is that, if one out of every thousand people that the small business emails reports the campaign as spam, then MailChimp will flag the account of that small business.

While this is well-intentioned, Black Hat digital marketers, ex-employees that are mad at the business, and things like that have a crippling arrow in their quiver. For example, let’s say that a small business has an email list with 10,000 people on it. If an ex-employee with just ten fake email addresses was to report an email that that business sent spam, then the business would have their 10,000 persons email list rendered worthless after a few infractions with their mail list provider like MailChimp.

Any business person knows -probably you reading here- that these businesses spend years of investment going to events, providing free value online, running blogs, etc. to build those email lists.

There aren’t a lot of great solutions. However, there are a couple that you might try. First of all, you can have people register for an email list through their social logins. What this will do is it will make them verify that they have a social login associated with the email address.The only problem here is that some people would be happy to give you their email address but not their social profile information.

You can also try the double opt-in method. When people sign up for your email list, they get an email that says, “Hey, did you really sign up?” And while this adds one extra step to the process, somebody committed to bringing down your email list will still be able to say “Yes, I signed up,” and then report your email as spam.

What are your thoughts about these restricting laws that hurt a lot of small and medium sized businesses? Leave us a comment below!

Davis Jones

Davis Jones

Co-Owner & Head of Product at Eazl
Davis Jones is a communicator and content creator with 10 years of experience in content marketing and product management. He specializes in video course curriculum and pedagogy and is located in Chicago.
Davis Jones