All posts by chris2x

Does Your Email Violate the CAN Spam Act?

spam

Everyday I receive emails that violate the CAN Spam Act ( This act was put in place to try and prevent spam or at least put into place acceptable email practices for businesses. Whenever you send an email to your customers that might be deemed “commercial” you fall into the set of emails covered by this act.

Commercial content – any email which advertises or promotes a commercial product or service, including content on a website operated for a commercial purpose;

guidelines:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

The FTC guidelines for what makes a spam email are surprisingly easy to understand. The easiest way to protect yourself is to use a commercial carrier for your bulk emails in particular. aWeber is the vendor that I use. They make sure that users have opted into your list, that your address is on the end of your emails and that users can quickly and easily opt out of your emails.

Why should you worry about the CAN Spam Act? The failure to comply with this act can lead to penalties of $16000 per email.

Social Media 101 Webinar – June 16th

We are planning a FREE webinar for June 16th 11am PT / 2pm ET to start looking at Social Media and how to use it to promote your destination or your business. This first webinar would be a great starting point for those not familiar with social media and will cover:

  • What is Social Media?
  • What is a Social Network?
  • What is a Blog?
  • What is RSS?
  • What is a Podcast?
  • Why should I care about Social Media?
  • How can I use my business strategy to drive my social media strategy?
  • What should I do first?

…and of course everything will be discussed as it relates to the travel and tourism industry.

Register Here for the webinar.

For more information about future webinars, join the Tourism Marketing Consulting newsletter mailing list.

Malama Maui Press Trip

In late March I had a chance to travel to Maui as part of a social media team on a press trip sponsored by the Maui Convention and Visitors Bureau. The trip was titled “Malama Maui” which is Hawaiian for “to nurture Maui”. I had a chance to ask Keli’i Brown of the Maui Convention and Visitors Bureau some questions about the trip.

malamamaui-300x65

What was the goal of the trip?

As always, our goal is to allow journalists to experience Maui’s myriad offerings and to write about their experiences. The most recent press trip was unique in that we organized a social media campaign to include a team of experts to promote Maui via their respective social media networks not only during the week of the press trip but pre-and-post. This was a way for Maui to include new media as part of the press group, and it was a way for Maui to see new media in action. We also including traditional broadcast and print media for good measure!

How do you measure success for the trip, that is, using what metrics?

That’s a tricky question because one has to be more specific in regards to what you want to measure. For us (in PR), our first and foremost measurement of success is the experience. The satisfaction level of the media participants as well as our PR partners is all important as a membership organization. In the end, we want to know that Maui satisfies and we want the people who live on Maui to interact with visitors to have an enjoyable, positive, honorable experience.

Our goal is to share the culture(s), landscape, people, natural attractions, accommodations, activities, festivals, etc. Did Maui meet or exceed desired expectations or did we fall short?  We then consider the editorial placement by the participating journalists. Was the coverage handled in a way that best showcases Maui? Will that story motivate visitors to come to our island? These are things we look at as the PR team so we are better suited to work with future media and assist our on island partners.

Next, we look at the value and reach of editorial placements. These figures provide a tangible measure of success, something we can share with others as a measurement of success.  We use professional services to track ad rates and circulation figures. We compile this data and hope to have a minimum of 3 to 1 return on our financial investment.  For example if we paid $1,000 to host a journalists airfare, rental car, etc. We hope the resulting editorial will be worth more than $4,000.

Would you be willing to ballpark the cost of the event?

I really can’t share specific costs of our press trip with you, but I can tell you that in general, “hard dollars” for a press trip can run anywhere from $10,000 – $15,000, depending on the size of the group. That number would typically include airfare, rental cars, some meals and some activities. That does not include in-kind support we receive for accommodations, most meals and most activities. There is also the “time” it takes to plan such a trip.