Updated February 19, 2016
When it comes to email marketing (i.e. sending subscribers regular emails), it’s essential to abide by anti-spam laws. These laws vary by country, but for many of us, there’s one requirement people gloss over: inclusion of a physical address. Here’s a common question I get:
The answer is yes.
If you use a reputable email service provider (ESP) to send your emails, you will be asked for a physical mailing address when you sign up. This physical address will be automatically inserted into every email newsletter you send to your subscribers.
For many just starting with email marketing, being asked for their address throws up a red flag. After all, who wants their physical mailing address floating out there, right? Here’s the scoop…
1. Don’t be alarmed
Being asked for a physical mailing address by your ESP is standard practice. In fact, if you aren’t asked for a physical mailing address, you should proceed with caution. Why? Because here in the U.S. at least, according to the CAN-SPAM Act (see #4) you must include your location. If an ESP says you don’t need to include one and you live in the U.S., find another ESP immediately.
FAQ: What if I live outside the United States?
Great question. It’s likely there are anti-spam laws where you live too. This article from MailChimp will point you in the right direction.
2. Use a snail mail address
You have to use a location where you can receive snail mail. You may not use a website or email address.
3. Don’t use your home address
Although you can use your home address, I definitely don’t recommend it for the sake of safety and privacy. Use any mailing address as long as you can receive mail there.
In my case, I rent a P.O. box. (Some rent a box at The UPS Store or similar.) I rent the smallest size since I rarely get mail there and the cost for me works out to about $5 a month, paid 6-12 months in advance usually. Call different post offices to find the lowest price.
4. It’s possible to find free options
If you don’t want to rent a box, you might also be able to use the mailing address of a brick and mortar business you own or are associated with. If you’re going to go that route though, I recommend you consult a lawyer to see whether or not you can do so without violating the CAN-SPAM Act.
5. Don’t use a fake address!
I’ve seen a surprising number of people suggest using a fake address (“Oh, I just made one up because no way was I going to put my home address in there!”). Don’t do it! This is a direct violation of the CAN-SPAM Act and could cost you dearly. Note paragraph 3:
Did you catch that? Each. Separate. Email. Up to $40,654 in penalties. Got 100 people on your list? Sent them all just one email? You’re looking at a potential fine of millions. Ouch!
The cost of a post office box is well worth it.
If you hope to make money online, read my post How to Start an Online Business: A Budget-Friendly Checklist.
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