Comment Spotlight: Postal Addresses In Your Emails

From time to time comments on the blog are worth discussing with everyone in a new post.

During a recent critique of a post-purchase marketing email, Phyllis asked:

“As a home-based business, I am hesitant to automatically include my physical address in all emails. I have had several experiences with fraudulent emails from people claiming to want to buy one or more of my paintings[…] I would not have been happy to have these people automatically know my address because it was in my signature block.

Do you feel that even with a home-based business, there should always be an address included in the signature block and that I’m jeopardizing my business otherwise?”

She’s certainly not alone in asking this. Many other small business owners have voiced the same concern to me over the years. So let’s talk about it…

Why You Need An Address In Your Emails, Part 1: CAN-SPAM

Let’s start with the legalese. CAN-SPAM requires that a valid physical postal address appear in your emails. If you omit it, you run the risk of being fined up to $11,000 per violation.

Yes, CAN-SPAM is a U.S. law, not a global one. And you may not be in the U.S. However, if you’re working with an email service provider that operates in the U.S., they’re going to require you to abide by it in order to work with them.

Besides, CAN-SPAM isn’t the only (or even the most important) reason to include your address.

Why You Need An Address In Your Emails, Part 2: It’s Good Business

One of the things that we stress in our getting started webinars is the importance of building trust.

Including a postal address helps legitimize you to your subscribers.

The online world gives one a sense of anonymity — you can do a great deal on the Internet without identifying yourself to anyone. There’s safety in that anonymity, which Phyllis alludes to above.

But how do you trust someone who you know only by something as anonymous as an email address and (perhaps) a website URL? You can’t force them to reply to an email, and if that’s your only way of contacting them when you have a problem or question, you’re stuck. Would you be willing to take that risk as a consumer?

Many people wouldn’t. They want to know there’s a real person available, that they can hold accountable. Your subscribers may not contact you by post… but the knowledge that they can reassures them.

For that reason (as well as the legal stuff), you really do need to include a postal address.

But It Doesn’t Have To Be Your Home Address!

It just needs to be somewhere that you can receive postal mail. You can use a separate business address, even a P.O. Box.

After all, Phyllis’ concerns about someone showing up on her doorstep are totally valid… and whether you’re working from home or not, there should be a separation between your personal and professional lives.