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Affiliate Marketing: Know The Can-Spam Act

The amount of false information available about e-mail marketing on the net is staggering. If you are advertising your affiliate program through e-mail campaigns, make sure you know what your responsibilities are.

The lawless days of spam e-mail are over, at least for U.S.A. based advertisers. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) sets forth specific requirements for advertising via e-mail. The law has been tested numerous times since being passed and fines have been levied, property seized, people have even been sentenced to prison.

As an affiliate marketer obviously you don't want to be on the wrong side of this law. Luckily, complying with the provisions in the law is fairly simple. Here is what it requires:

No misleading or fake header information. This includes the "From:" and "To" fields.

No deceptive subject lines. You want your customer to know what you're selling anyway, so this should be no problem.

Messages must be labeled as advertising. Again, the moral is: no sneaky stuff.

An "internet-based" opt-out method must be provided. You have 10 days to stop e-mailing a person once you have received their remove request.

Messages must include your business (or home) physical address. This provides accountability and a way for the customer to verify that your business is real.


Breaking any of these rules could lead to a fine of up to $11,000 per violation! Honesty is now truly the best policy. You may be thinking: if this is such a big deal, why is my inbox flooded with spam every day?

It's not a perfect world, and the short answer is that many of those advertisers are breaking the law. Commonly they are outside the United States in areas where prosecution may be unrealistic. You, on the other hand, would probably be quite easy to catch.

Be sure to read the detailed requirements for yourself. You can find more information at the Federal Trade Commission's website, http://www.ftc.gov/spam

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