Biz Rules: CAN-SPAM Act

By Beau Denton May 31, 2012

Did you know you have a “spaminess” quotient?If you’re emailing your customers, then you’d better know about the federal CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing). It’s been around since 2003, but as more small businesses move to online communication, they are learning that noncompliance can have serious consequences. The act applies to any email “the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a product or service,” even if it’s only to one person.

Among other things, the law, which can incur penalties up to $16,000 per email, prohibits unclear or misleading subject lines, and vague “From” fields and return addresses; mandates a clear and simple unsubscribe system for every recipient; and requires the inclusion of a physical mailing address.

Federal law isn’t the only thing businesses need to know about, says Ben Chestnut, co-founder of email marketing company MailChimp, which has more than 1.6 million customers worldwide—including Biz(941). In articles on MailChimp’s website, Chestnut explains that spam filters search emails for indicators of “spaminess,” like multiple dollar signs or exclamation marks, a high image-to-text ratio, or even the phrase “Click here.” Most spam filters assign points for each of these. “Once your ‘spaminess score’ hits the threshold (which is set by the server administrator), your email gets blocked,” writes Chestnut—meaning your intended audience may never see your message.

For more on common triggers, check out this list of tips by Spam Assassin, one of the most widely used spam filters: Read more about the CAN-SPAM Act here:


“If you think you have it bad in Florida, consider what the average New Yorker pays in rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $3,650 a month!”

Ken Prewitt, anchor for Bloomberg Radio, at New College of Florida’s “Housing: What’s Next?” panel discussion, April 18.



The number of years it will take for women to close the gender wage gap, assuming the current annual wage growth rate of under half of 1 percent.

SOURCE: AAUW’s The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap, 2012

Filed under
Show Comments