One of the many things that we explain to people in our Email Deliverability Handbook is that while you must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, you shouldn’t say that you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. This advice may seem counter-intuitive, however here’s why.
First, while some spam filters and spam filtering are focussing less on content these days, many do still take note of content; Spam Assassin for example, which is one of the widely deployed open-source spam filters in the world. And those spam filters may actually consider you saying in your mailings that you comply with CAN-SPAM to be a sign that your email is more likely than not to be spam. Here’s one of the primary reasons for that: Because while complying with CAN-SPAM is necessary, it is by no means sufficient, to following best email practices.
As CAN-SPAM doesn’t actually prohibit spamming, so long as you are doing it within the parameters of CAN-SPAM, saying that you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act is like saying “I don’t batter people, but I stand in front of them on the sidewalk and yell obscenities at them.” Put another way, when you talk about being CAN-SPAM compliant, that signals those who are watching that you probably are doing things that are not prohibited by CAN-SPAM but that are still considered spamming. Such as adding people to your mailing list without asking them first, let alone getting their consent.
Why Complying with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 Isn’t Enough
Conscientious mailers go far and above the requirements of CAN-SPAM. Oh, they are CAN-SPAM compliant, but they recognize that complying with CAN-SPAM is the bare minimum, and who wants to brag about doing the bare minimum? So they also are doing far more than just complying with CAN-SPAM in terms of their email sending practices. And it’s no coincidence that their email gets a much higher deliverability rate than the email of the mailers who only comply with CAN-SPAM, and do no more. In fact the ‘only CAN-SPAM compliers’ are often sending email that most of the world considers to be spam and even illegal (everybody knows that in the U.S. good ole CAN-SPAM allows email that the rest of the world has already made illegal).
And those email senders who are doing more than just complying with CAN-SPAM have far better delivery to the inbox, and correspondingly less email going to the spam folder.
Finally, not only may saying in your email that you are CAN-SPAM compliant help get you shunted to the junk folder, but it really is like wearing a name tag that says “Hi, my name is The Best Thing I Can Say About My Email is That it Complies with the Law that Doesn’t Prohibit from Spamming.”
So be a complier and comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, but don’t just comply with it, be a best practicer too.