Cold emailing refers to the practice of sending unsolicited emails to recipients that have not expressed any prior interest in receiving communications from the sender. It’s different from spam emails in the sense that spam involves sending unsolicited emails to a large number of people without any regard for their interests or preferences.
Cold emailing is not illegal, but it is subject to certain rules and regulations under various anti-spam laws around the world, including the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States. The CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) is a law that sets out rules for sending commercial email messages in the United States. The CAN-SPAM Act defines commercial email as any message that has the primary purpose of advertising or promoting a commercial product or service. The law was enacted in 2003 and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Under the CAN-SPAM Act, email marketers are to abide by the following key provisions of the law:
- Opt-Out Requirement: The law requires that all commercial emails include a clear mechanism for recipients to opt out of future emails from the sender. For example, this could be in the form of an unsubscribe link.
- Identification Information: All commercial emails must include accurate and identifiable information about the sender, including the sender’s name and physical mailing address.
- Clear Subject Lines: Commercial emails must have truthful and relevant subject lines that accurately reflect the content of the email.
What Happens if You Don’t Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act?
Companies that violate the CAN-SPAM Act can receive penalties of up to $43,280 per email sent. If a company is using a third-party service to send their commercial emails, both the sender and the third-party service are responsible for complying with the CAN-SPAM Act.
How to Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act
To comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, there are several requirements you must meet when sending commercial emails, such as:
- Only send emails to those who have opted-in: You should ensure that you only send commercial emails to individuals who have given their explicit consent to receive them. This can be done through a sign-up form or by requiring customers to opt-in during the purchase process.
- Include accurate identification information: Include accurate and identifiable information about yourself or the company, including the name and physical mailing address.
- Provide a clear opt-out mechanism: All commercial emails you send must include a clear opt-out feature. This is typically placed in the footer of the email.
- Honor opt-out requests promptly: Once a recipient has opted-out of receiving future emails, you must honor that request within 10 business days.
- Use clear and truthful subject lines: Use relevant subject lines that accurately reflect the content of the email, so as to not mislead the recipient.
- Don’t use deceptive content: The law prohibits the use of false or misleading content in commercial emails, such as false header information or deceptive links.