{Checklist} Create CAN-SPAM Compliant Emails with Certainty

According to Agile data, most administrators and teachers receive as many as 20 emails about education products and services daily. This doesn’t even take into account the non-education promotions that arrive in their personal and school inboxes every day. Making CAN-SPAM something that can’t be ignored.

Consumers in the U.S. receive hundreds and even thousands of marketing messages. That’s why there are rules in place to protect them from false, misleading and unsolicited emails that could be hiding within that outreach.

All marketers must follow the rules and requirements outlined in the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003. With Agile’s help — and our handy checklist — you can make all of your emails CAN-SPAM compliant.

But first, some basics:

What is CAN-SPAM?

The CAN-SPAM law was established in 2003 to set standards and establish requirements for the creation and deployment of commercial messages. CAN-SPAM outlines these requirements and the penalties for breaking them. Most importantly, the law protects and empowers email recipients by giving them the right to have you cease communications to them.

Does CAN-SPAM apply to my company?

If you use email for business, CAN-SPAM likely applies to most of your messages. The regulations cover all “commercial messages,” or messages with the primary purpose of advertising or promoting a commercial product or service. Whether you’re mostly B2C or mainly B2B, CAN-SPAM doesn’t discriminate.

But are you sure CAN-SPAM applies?

If your company promotes content through email, surely that isn’t classified as commercial, right? The purpose of content marketing is to educate and inform — not promote or advertise. Unfortunately, emails with links to download white papers, efficacy studies, infographics, and more are subject to CAN-SPAM. The law encompasses emails with content on a website operated for commercial purposes.

In some cases, your commercial messages might combine transactional or relationship messaging, which are exempt from CAN-SPAM rules. Determine if CAN-SPAM applies in these cases by deciding the primary purpose of the message. If the subject line leads recipients to interpret the message as commercial, then CAN-SPAM applies. Or, if the bulk of the message is made up of commercial content, or if the commercial content is displayed at the beginning of the message, CAN-SPAM also applies.

Why should I care about CAN-SPAM?

Violating CAN-SPAM requirements can be costly — up to $40,654 per message. You also can wind up blacklisted by your email service provider and risk losing customers and prospects.

How do I comply with CAN-SPAM requirements?

It’s relatively simple to follow the requirements outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act. Of course, Agile’s email marketing services are 100 percent CAN-SPAM compliant, but it doesn’t hurt to do your due diligence, too. If your messages are found in violation, both you and the company that provides your email marketing can be held accountable.

Download our CAN-SPAM compliancy guide, and make sure you can check each box for every message you send.


Learn more about CAN-SPAM and how to be compliant. If you have questions or concerns about CAN-SPAM compliancy, consult with the Federal Trade Commission or seek legal counsel.

Skip to content