Donald Trump Is Spamming Me: What Everyone Should Know about Email Marketing
The first rule of good email marketing is you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.
The second rule of good email marketing is you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.
Giving My Email Address
In February 2016, Donald Trump was planning a campaign event at the University of Illinois Chicago. A friend of mine told me about it and suggested that I request a pair of tickets (the maximum allowed) on Eventbrite with the intent of not using them. So I signed up for the event with an email address that I rarely use.
As you may know, the event was cancelled because of some rowdy people, so the decision to attend the event or not was taken from me. [insert sarcastically sad face]
I was notified of the event cancellation from an email I received. It was from Donald himself and said that the event had been moved to Bloomington — a city in central Illinois that’s just too far for me to get to on a work night.
Black, White, and Gray-all-over
When I provided my email to Eventbrite, I was giving them and Donald Trump permission to send emails to me.
BUT they can’t just do anything with that email address.
Eventbrite has the right to continue to email me about their service, the event I registered for, and for anything else outlined in their Terms of Service. And in all of their emails they must include an opportunity for me to unsubscribe from their emails and be removed completely from their mailing list (though they have 10 days to comply with my unsubscribe request). Because my email is tied to the service that Eventbrite offers, this may require me to delete my account to stop all emails.
Donald Trump on the other hand has the opportunity to email me about the event that I’m attending. With that said, there’s some gray area concerning how long he can continue reaching out to me about that event. Conceivably, he could send me an email in a month saying something like, “Sorry I cancelled on you in Chicago, but I have another event coming up in your area…” He also must include an unsubscribe option at the end of the email and honor unsubscribe requests.
Trump Breaks CAN-SPAM Act
A few days after the event in Chicago, I received another email from Donald. I noticed that the emails were coming from his own email server and not Eventbrite’s, so I immediately unsubscribed. I didn’t want to be on his email list. This was in February.
Then, leading up to the Republican National Convention in July, I started receiving emails from Trump’s kids about the importance of the convention (or something…I wasn’t paying much attention because I was mad that I was back on the list). So, after a few days, I unsubscribed again.
Now, just an hour ago, I received another email from donaldtrump.com.
So, first, let’s go down the list of ways that Trump has broken the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003:
- Trump added my email address to a list that I didn’t sign up for.
- Trump did not honor an unsubscribe request in February.
- Trump did not honor an unsubscribe request in July.
- Oh, and Trump doesn’t put a physical address in his emails (also a requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act).
Making Email Great Again
Before I start with a list, know that there’s basic compliance and there’s additional best practices. Some really awesome email marketing platforms do a lot in the realm of compliance and best practices because they only want customers that aren’t trying to spam people. (One good example is MailChimp. Their tagline is: “Send better email.”)
As you can probably guess, Trump isn’t using one of these.
So here are the requirements for sending a CAN-SPAM compliant email:
(Keep in mind that these rules are for mass marketing emails and not personal emails.)
- Your subject line should not be misleading.
- Your “From” address should not be misleading.
- The recipient’s email address cannot be harvested from somewhere on the Internet (essentially, people must sign up for your mailing list).
- A physical mailing address of the person or organization sending the email must be present.
- An unsubscribe option must be in the footer.
- Unsubscription requests must be honored in 10 days.
That’s the bulk of them. There are a few others, but they’re either a little dated, a little technical, or they fall in line with some of the other points.
Why should Trump comply?
This answer is simple — because no one wants to receive emails they don’t want.
But there’s an even better answer.
Because you can be jailed and fined for not complying with the law.
Who’s the crook now?