How to make your email Marketing CAN-SPAM Compliant?

CAN-SPAN Act stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act. If you are a digital marketer targeting to U.S. clients via E-mail marketing, it is very necessary to understand CAN-SPAM Act. Sending Spam emails is illegal and there are different laws and punishments in different countries. In Dec 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush signed the CAN-SPAM Act 2003 and ordered the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce its provisions.

The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that makes the rules for commercial email. By giving the recipients the right to have you stop emailing them and impose tough penalties for the violators. CAN-SPAN Act derives its name from Canning (which means putting an end to) Spam (unsolicited commercial email). In simple terms, CAN-SPAM Act tries to put an end to annoying emails you did not ask from companies you do not know, selling products you do not want.

What messages are covered under CAN-SPAM Act?

CAN-SPAM covers all commercial messages defined by the law. Such as any e-mail messages the primary purpose of which is to make commercial advertisements or promote a commercial product or service. It also includes email-promoting website content. The act does not exempt business to business email,

However, it exempts transactional and relationship emails if it contains only transactional or relationship content.

How to define transactional and relationship messages?

An email message can be a transactional and relationship message only if they have the content that:

1) Confirms or facilitates a commercial transaction that the receiver is already agreed to.

2) Gives the information about the warranty, warnings, and safety instructions about a product or service.

3) Provides information about an employment relationship or employee benefits.

4) Delivers goods or services as part of the transaction that the recipient already has agreed to.

5) Gives information about changes in terms and conditions or features or account balance information regarding a membership, subscription, account, loan or other ongoing commercial relationship.

Penalties for non-compliance with CAN-SPAM Act

The organizations that violate the CAN-SPAM Act can have a penalty up to $ 16,000 per email message. Violating these laws can get a penalty, imprisonment or both, which is happened to Alan Ralsky known as “Godfather of Spam” and the other three men caught for sending billions of emails to inflate the price of Chinese penny shares between January 2004 and September 2005.

Their modus operandi was just simple, they sent billions of illegal email advertisements using unauthorized computers or with the intent to hide the email’s original source. Thus, they use these emails to inflate the price of Chinese penny stocks and then reaped the profits from them. Consequently, they committed wire fraud and money laundering around $3 million in 2005.

How to make your Email Marketing CAN-SPAM Act Compliant?

1) Do not make the false or misleading header of the mail– Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To” and other routing information along with domain address and email address must be correct and accurate and identify the person or business who originated the message.

2) Do not use deceptive subject lines- The subject line should not be deceptive. The subject line should reflect accurately the content of the message.

3) Identify the message as an ad- The email should give clear identification that it is an advertisement or solicitation.

4) Include a valid physical postal address in Email- Your email must have a valid physical postal address. In other words, It includes your current street address, a post office box (registered with U.S. Postal service), or a private mailbox from a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations. Even better, you should write your phone number also.

5) Explain clearly how to opt out of receiving future emails- Your message should include a clear and simple explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting your email in future. Hence, making it is easy for the person to recognize and understand it easily. As per law, you should honor an opt-out request within 10 working days. You should not charge any fee. You cannot require a recipient to provide personally-identifying information just an email address. Similarly, You cannot make recipients take more steps rather than, just replying to an email or visiting a single page on a website to unsubscribe or opt-out.

6) Do not mail those who have opted-out (unsubscribed) from your email list. If a recipient unsubscribed from your email list, then, you should not send them any more emails in the future.


The CAN-SPAM Act clearly defines that even if you hire someone or any other company to perform an email marketing campaign. If they violate any compliance of the CAN-SPAM Act, then both the advertiser and the company who is sending the message may be held responsible and get penalized according to the Act.

In conclusion, apart from penalty and imprisonment in CAN-SPAM Act, other negative aspects of spamming including your domain get blacklisted. As a result, ISPs can terminate your service and website hosting companies can refuse to provide you with their services due to your bad reputation.

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