Posts for Tag: business

Staying on the Right Side of the Law: A Compliance Guide to Cold Email Marketing

If you want to add cold email marketing to your lead generation strategy, it’s crucial to do it correctly. If you fail to follow email regulations like the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act or Europe’s GDPR, you risk fines, blocked emails, damaged sender reputation, and more.

However, compliance doesn’t have to be complicated. By understanding some essential dos and don’ts and setting up compliance-focused processes, you can confidently create effective cold email campaigns while avoiding legal penalties or deliverability issues.

This guide will cover everything you need to know to ensure your small business’s cold email efforts adhere to major U.S. and European email regulations. You’ll learn:

  • Key elements of CAN-SPAM and GDPR email regulations
  • Best practices for structuring compliant cold email campaigns
  • Practical tips and examples for writing complaint emails
  • Steps to track compliance metrics and optimize over time
  • A glossary of proper email marketing compliance terms

Let’s dive in!

Deciphering Major Email Regulations

Before creating cold email campaigns, familiarize yourself with commercial email laws in your target countries. We’ll focus on the two major ones:


The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act establishes requirements for commercial emails sent to U.S. recipients. It covers:

  • Accurately identifying the sender, including a valid physical address
  • Avoiding deceptive or misleading subject lines
  • Marking emails as advertisements
  • Providing opt-out methods and honoring opt-out requests
  • Following Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Internet Service Provider (ISP) guidelines

Failing to comply can lead to fines of over $40,000 per violation.


The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates how personal data, including email addresses, is collected, handled, and used. Relevant aspects include:

  • Requiring unambiguous consent to process and store email addresses
  • Allowing EU residents the right to access, edit, delete, and export stored personal data
  • Mandating data protection officers (DPOs) to monitor GDPR compliance
  • Stipulating data breach notifications within 72 hours

Steep financial penalties of up to €20 million can apply for non-compliance. Now that you know the regulatory landscape, let’s explore setting up an email marketing workflow with compliance in mind.

Constructing Compliant Cold Email Campaigns

When planning cold email efforts, build compliance practices into your strategy. This will set your small business up for email success and prevent legal missteps. Follow these best practices:

  • Obtain Valid Consent - start by sourcing email subscriber lists legally and confirming opt-in consent wherever possible. For EU subscribers, document consent per GDPR’s stringent standards.
  • Honor Opt-Out Requests - make unsubscribing straightforward by including visible, working opt-out links in your emails. Immediately remove any address that opts out from your recipient lists.
  • Use Accurate Sender Info - fully identify your business in the “From” name, including a valid reply-to address and postal address in compliance boundaries.
  • Craft Compliant Content - avoid vague claims or misleading headings. Disclose commercial intent and mark emails as advertisements where applicable laws require it.
  • Follow Bulk Sending Rules - respect ISP sending limits, regularly reconfirm opt-in consent where needed and employ authentication methods like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.
  • Track Compliance Metrics - use your email service provider’s (ESP’s) reporting tools or specialized software to monitor complaint rates, spam test results, opt-outs, and more.

Writing Compliant Cold Emails

When drafting cold emails, include specific elements in your templates to tick the compliance boxes right in your copy:

  • Subject Lines - Keep subjects clear and accurate. Summarize the content or offer to meet regulatory guidelines against deception. For example: “Offering 20% off Your 1st Order.”
  • Sender Info & Opt-Out Links - Visibly display your business name, postal address, and opt-out links in the email body per CAN-SPAM and GDPR.
  • ADVERTISEMENT Label - boldly label any promotional content as an “ADVERTISEMENT” or use compliant terminology like “COMMERCIAL OFFER.”
  • Value Proposition & Relevance - research prospects and personalized emails around their needs. Vague or irrelevant messages are more likely to elicit complaints and hurt deliverability.
  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs) - make CTAs clear and specific. Avoid overly aggressive wording urging prospects to “Act Now!” or “Buy Today!” so emails don’t seem alarmist or deceptive.
  • Review & Confirm Compliance - double-check each draft, especially the first emails, to confirm all legally required elements appear. Set up peer reviews to catch anything you might have missed.
  • Optimizing & Monitoring Over Time - with your initial compliant email template complete, the work isn’t over. Monitor your ongoing cold email performance and optimize based on key compliance health metrics.
  • Open and Click Tracking - if open-and-click rates start trending down, thoroughly review content, sender info, subject lines, and more through a compliance lens to identify areas for improvement.
  • Spam Complaints - monitor complaint rates in your ESP. Try switching up sender details if too many recipients mark your emails as spam.
  • Invalid Addresses - bouncing emails often indicate outdated or invalid data. Refresh your lists more frequently to maintain address accuracy in compliance with CAN-SPAM and GDPR.
  • Opt-Out Requests - if opt-outs spike, ensure your unsubscribe process works smoothly. Excess opt-outs can harm deliverability as ESPs view it as a negative signal.
  • Ongoing Audits - conduct periodic cold email audits every quarter. Critically evaluate all processes and content against the latest regulations to close any compliance gaps that may have emerged.

Best Practices for Compliance Excellence

Going above and beyond regulations in your email marketing compliance leads to higher inbox placement rates and more impactful cold email campaigns over time. Here are a few essential best practices to consider:

  • Appoint a compliance lead, like a Data Protection Officer, to govern email processes.
  • Invest in advanced email address verification to keep subscriber lists current and authorized.
  • Send quarterly permission messages to reconfirm subscriber consent.
  • Always clearly display subscription and profile management preferences.
  • Limit email sends to stay under recommended daily thresholds.
  • Automate unsubscribe links in email footers for consistency.

Helpful Email Compliance Terms Glossary

As you shape your compliant cold email program, get familiar with this glossary of crucial email regulatory and compliance vocabulary:

  • CAN-SPAM Act: U.S. law governing commercial emails and mandating accuracy, identification, disclosures, and opt-out compliance.
  • GDPR: European Union data protection regulations directing how companies manage EU residents’ personal data and email addresses.
  • Opt-In Consent: Explicit permission is given by data subjects to store and use their email addresses for promotional communications.
  • Double Opt-In: A more stringent form of confirming subscriber consent requires clicking a verification link in a confirmation email.
  • Opt-Out / Unsubscribe: Process allowing recipients to remove themselves from future email communications. Mandatory per CAN-SPAM.
  • Address Verification: A check was performed to confirm an email address is valid and active in use before adding it to distribution lists. Helps comply with accuracy requirements.
  • Abuse Reports: Official spam complaints submitted to ISPs by email users, usually via “Report Spam” or “Mark as Junk" buttons.
  • Authentication Protocols: Methods for confirming a sender’s identity to improve security, deliverability, and compliance. Examples include SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.
  • Repermissioning: Requesting existing subscribers to reconfirm their ongoing consent to receive emails is often needed to comply with changing regulations.

In closing, legal regulations establish definitive rules for proper commercial email conduct. But armed with the compliance best practices in this guide, small businesses can confidently incorporate cold email into lead gen efforts. Just focus on transparency, value relevance, consent, and ethical data procedures as core tenets of your program. Prioritizing compliance may require more upfront work, but it boosting inbox placement and open rates for stellar cold email results pays off tremendously.

Using Canva to Fix DALL·E 3 Text Mistakes

ChatGPT Plus with DALL-E 3 is a fantastic tool for bloggers like me. I love creating blog cover images using DALL-E 3 by providing the title and summary of my post - the suggested images it generates are remarkable. However, some of my readers and friends have pointed out typos in these AI-generated cover images. 

At first, I was okay with the typos since they demonstrate the current state of AI image generation. However, many people might think the errors were simply a result of my lack of proofreading. I avoided mistakes by using AI tools to check my writing, but generated images were an exception - I just went with what I liked visually, typos and all. Some grammar sticklers remind me of the typos when sharing my social media posts. 

So, I finally started looking for an easy way to solve this issue. My favorite graphics tool, Canva, came to the rescue. I discovered that Canva can now grab text from within images and simulate the font, allowing you to edit AI-generated images effectively. 

Here's a video demonstrating how I'm now using Canva to edit out typos in my AI cover images:

Using Canva to tweak the text, I can keep the fantastic images DALL-E 3 generates while eliminating any minor typos that detract from my blog's polish. It's a simple but effective way to get the best of both worlds!

Optimizing Your Website for Performance, SEO and Social Sharing

With the advent of Artificial Intelligence, those who use AI daily are often reluctant to search on Google to go to a specific website. We ask ChatGPT, Bing Chat, Claude, and BARD most of our questions. But this is yet to be the norm in the world. Besides, more and more of these LLMs are getting access to the internet, and they need to access websites. So, humans may not directly consume websites in the future; But our AI assistants will need information to help us, and therefore, creating websites still makes sense. This is because most of the world will not suddenly get access or switch to AI in the next few years.

Recently, I created my website, I had a single-page site for years and never cared much about it. Then, I realized a simple trend on Twitter. People who check out a user's profile page often click on the link in the profile to learn more about the person they are interested in. However, if the link looks long or complex or like their company, people are often reluctant to click on it. 

I used to have in my profile. I hardly got any clicks on the link. Then I switched to, and even on the first day of the site launch, I got a subscriber for the newsletter from the profile page's link. People are willing to click on a personal website more than a company website to learn about someone they are interacting with on social media.

As I created this custom website from scratch, I checked off all the best practices and optimizations needed. In this article, I will share the site audit process for performance, SEO, and social sharing so that you can benefit from these tools if you are creating a new site for your personal or business use.

Note: I am not affiliated with any of these tools, so no worries. They are primarily free anyway.

Audit Your Site

Once you have a site created and launched, hopefully in beta mode, you can use many online tools to analyze your site's performance from various perspectives. There are many tools to use, but I will share two here.

PageSpeed Insights

This is a free tool from Google that you can use anytime. Just point to your site's URL and click a button to analyze the performance of your website. It is simple and perfect in its analysis. Here is the site:

I have created a video showing the scores it gave, which is very decent, and I was delighted with the results for both mobile and desktop modes.


I also use this performance analyzer when interested in a  second opinion about my website's performance. Here is their site:

As you can see, also got excellent scores on this tool.

If you are not getting good scores, you can easily dig deeper into the problems and potential solutions with their explanations. Typical oversized items to be mindful of are:

  • Page load time - the number of images, external javascripts or CSS files, or videos can cause your page to load slow
  • Image sizes - if you have a lot of images, be mindful of the time it takes to load. Use lazy loading concepts if possible. 
  • Meta data - make sure you have at least the minimum metadata in the HTML to get good SEO scores
  • OpenGraph data - sharing your site content with social media depends on the OpenGraph settings. We discussed next.

Social Sharing Audit

If you care about people sharing your website's pages on social media and want the embeds to look good, you must pay attention to the OpenGraph elements in your HTML markup tags. Head over to the site below and test your OpenGraph metadata:

You want to ensure your pages have all the relevant OpenGraph metadata entered. Here is what it looks like for

 And here is what links look like when posted on social media. Here is how it will look on 𝕏 (formerly Twitter)

Here is how it looks on Facebook:

As you can see, the link includes a picture from the page, which makes the embed more visually attractive.

Speeding Up with HTTP/2

HTTP/2 is a newer, faster version of the HTTP protocol that powers the web. It was created in 2015 to help pages load more quickly. HTTP/2 allows for better multiplexing of requests, header compression to reduce overhead, and server push of content before it's requested. In basic terms, HTTP/2 enables web servers and browsers to communicate and exchange information more efficiently. This results in faster page loads, less latency, and a smoother browsing experience for users. The transition to HTTP/2 is happening behind the scenes as major websites and platforms adopt it to speed up their services.

Enabling HTTP/2 on your web server is a great way to speed up your page delivery. Here is an example of Nginx configuration to allow HTTP/2:

# Enable HTTP/2

listen 443 http2 ssl; 

HTTP/2 allows for more efficient use of connections and can improve page load speed.

Google Analytics vs Other Options

For analytics, most people default to Google Analytics.  However, the Austrian Data Protection Authority has ruled that transferring data from the EU to the US via Google Analytics is illegal, prompted by 101 complaints filed by privacy group noyb after a 2020 EU court decision invalidated the EU-US data transfer agreement over inadequate protections against US government surveillance. This landmark ruling against the industry standard web analytics tool used on millions of sites worldwide is expected to be followed by other EU countries, aiming to force US tech companies to adapt to EU privacy laws rather than circumvent them. So we do not use Google Analytics on sites that we control directly like this domain or CPROMPT.AI.

There are privacy-focused alternatives you may want to consider instead. I am using on this site. Here is there link:

There are other options like Plausible from which is open-source and lightweight. Even though I am big on open source solutions, I just don't like OSS software that require docker-based installations. Also, for a small price, I can use Pirsch on unlimited websites from the same account. The choice depends on your needs, but it's worth evaluating alternatives to Google Analytics if you want to limit data collection and respect visitor privacy.

There are tons of things you can do to improve performance, availability and reachablity of your web site.  I have discussed only a handful of them that I care most about. However, here is a list of checklist items for a new website launch:

Here are 10 checklist items for optimizing a website for performance and SEO:

  • Backend web server optimization - use scalable web server like Nginx and tweak it for high performance and enable compression to minimize file sizes
  • Optimize images by reducing file size, enabling lazy loading, using CDN networks and adding alt text 
  • Minify CSS, JavaScript and HTML content as much possible. 
  • Enable caching data on the backend and browsing caching on the front end
  • Streamline web fonts and eliminate any unnecessary custom fonts
  • Ensure SEO and OpenGraph required meta data are properly set up
  • Audit site with multiple page speed analysis tools

Hope this was a little helpful for you. Let me know in the comments below if you want to go on more in-depth on these things I mentioned here. I can create a YouTube video on this topic if questions demand it.

Canva for Entrepreneurs

Creating stunning graphics used to require hiring a designer, but Canva has changed the game. This intuitive platform makes graphic design accessible to everyone.  As a non-designer running a small business, I constantly need graphics for social media and blogging. Our engineering team needs help with even basic visuals. Canva is the perfect solution, allowing us to create anything from social posts to UI elements easily. 

We've been Canva devotees for years. The interface is so simple that I've never had to contact their support. They recently incorporated AI image generation so that you can prompt your way to the perfect graphic with just a text description. For bootstrap entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, Canva eliminates the need for an in-house or virtual graphics designer. The low graphics volume most small niche businesses need doesn't justify the cost. Even heavy Instagram users can now create their beautiful feeds without a dedicated designer.

Things that I often do with Canva include:

  • Creating a simple blog post header graphic
  • Creating a simple video clip for a tweet
  • Creating a UI element for an app
  • Creating social media headers
  • Editing business photos to remove backgrounds and put different backgrounds and text

One of my most exciting uses for Canva is to maintain a virtual whiteboard of tasks in the form of virtual sticky notes and share them with my team. This is not our primary project management tool, but I use it as it helps me visualize a real whiteboard I used to have in my actual office before Pandemic. I will write a detailed post with a video about this feature in the future.

Hailing from Australia, Canva has changed the game. The process from concept to creation is intuitive and smooth. As a non-designer, I find it empowering to generate whatever graphics I need quickly.  I can't recommend Canva enough. This tool has been a game changer for creating great visual content affordably. Every business today needs strong visuals, and Canva makes it achievable for all.