What is the CAN-SPAM Act?
If you work in email marketing for your company and are located in the United States, you are probably vaguely familiar with the CAN-SPAM Act. The main takeaways from CAN-SPAM are fairly logical — when your company sends marketing emails, they should:
Have no false or misleading contents/headers/subject lines
Identify the email as a marketing message
Allow for opt-outs
You can read the full policy here. One unique and unexpected facet of CAN-SPAM is that technically – and we at ahoy! don’t endorse this – you can technically send emails without explicit opt-ins, as long as an option to opt-out is provided.
But what if you’re emailing to international subscribers? Although your emails may comply with the spam regulations in the US, there are other things to look out for if you want to avoid the spam folder (or serious legal trouble) when emailing internationally.
Email Marketing in Canada
Canada, much like the US, adheres to their own Anti-Spam Legislation. This pretty much encompasses all of the same rules as the CAN-SPAM Act, plus some. The main difference between Canada and the US is that in order to email subscribers in Canada, you must have full permission and proof of opt-ins. Similarly, harvesting of email lists, meaning generating or guessing email addresses based on company naming structure or whatnot, is illegal. Canada’s anti-spam restrictions are some of the strictest in the world, so it’s a good idea to make sure you are following these laws when sending emails across all of North America.
Email Marketing in Europe
Across the pond, there isn’t one anti-spam law or piece of legislation that covers all of Europe. Many countries have their own individual sets of rules to follow, so depending on where you’re sending emails, make sure to check out that particular country’s rules. That said, similar to the US and Canada, there are a few common rules among many countries, which you would be wise to follow. As it relates to opt-ins, you must have explicit permission before you can collect any data on subscribers. As for opt-outs, there needs to be an available process for people to remove themselves from your email list, and once they have opted-out, you must permanently remove them from your contact list.
Email Marketing in Australia and New Zealand
Australia has its own set of regulations in the form of the Spam Act of 2003. This is similar to Canada’s law, in that permission to email someone is required. The only exceptions to this are messages from government bodies, registered charities, registered political parties, and educational institutions when emailing past or present students. Also, it’s important to note that in Australia, collecting emails without permission is not legal.
As for Asia, South America, and Africa, there aren’t really official rules that encompass the entirety of each continent. Most rules are a tad looser than those listed above; however, having an available opt-out process seems to be one of the top global rules.