If you’re looking to start your year with a fresh outlook on your email marketing strategy, it’s best to get back to the basics. With that in mind, establishing the foundation of your email strategy with the 7 tenants of the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act is a good place to start.

Not only are these rules basic best practices to keep in mind when marketing in general, they are also legally binding and could cost you up to $16,000 for every email that doesn’t comply. As difficult as it already is to comply with the often strenuous compliance guidelines put forth by the finance industry, the last thing you need is another threat of a fine looming over you.

To get a full picture of how to lay the groundwork for a successful email strategy, here are the basic tenets of the CAN-SPAM Act, as well as some best practices to utilize within these parameters to get you the results you want without coming across as “spammy”.

The CAN-SPAM Act’s 7 Commandments

You can read the all of the details on the CAN-SPAM Act here, but for the sake of your time and sanity, here are the basic rules.

1. Thou shalt not use false or misleading header information

Being honest about who you are and what you do is in large part what the CAN-SPAM act is all about. It may seem straightforward but, as you can tell by taking one look at your spam folder, lying and misrepresenting yourself is extremely easy and all-too-frequent in email marketing. These rules were established to provide some credibility to commercial messaging of any kind and hold companies accountable for their messaging so be sure to be as straight forward and accurate as possible when establishing who your message is from.

2. Thou shalt not use deceptive subject lines

Creating clever and effective subject lines is important to increasing your engagement rates, but it is important that these subject lines accurately reflect the content within the email.

3. Thou shalt identify thine message as an ad

Again, going back to the credibility thing, you must somehow make it abundantly clear that your message is, in fact, an advertisement of some sort. Luckily the law gives you plenty of wiggle room on exactly how you can accomplish this but, regardless of your method, there must be no way to mistake your email as anything but an ad.

4. Thou shalt inform recipients of your location

In an effort to combat spammers from other countries claiming to be American businesses, you are legally required to include a physical postal address somewhere in your email (with all the other necessary regulatory disclosure).

5. Thou shalt inform recipients of how to opt out of receiving future emails from you

This is a big one since the ability to choose whether or not to receive promotional material from a company is what truly separates SPAM from regular marketing emails. Make sure you include either an unsubscribe or an email preference center link in your email in a clear, easily accessible location.

6. Honor your opt-out requests in a prompt manner

Whenever users opt out of your email campaigns, make sure to not drag your feet when removing them from your email list. Every email sent after their opt-out is breaking the CAN-SPAM Act and leaves you liable to face hefty fines. You have a total of 10 days after someone has unsubscribed to purge them from your email list. Any mail after that is considered illegal.

7. Thou shalt monitor what others are doing on your behalf

If you hire a third party to handle your emails and they break the CAN-SPAM Act in any way, it’s you that is held accountable, not them. Make sure to monitor any emails you have contracted out to a third party.


To learn more about dodging the spam folder, check out this cool article. To learn more about the easiest way to get your email from A to B, check out StoneShot.