I frequently get questions about what is and isn’t allowed in advertising emails.
The first part of the answer is what’s required by law under the CAN-SPAM Act. In addition, each email service provider has their own requirements, which can vary from one provider to another.
The CAN-SPAM Act is pretty straightforward:
• It bans false or misleading “from” lines.
• Deceptive subject lines are prohibited.
• An online opt-out method is required. You may offer alternatives, such as the ability to receive fewer emails, but you must also offer the recipient the option of opting out of your emails altogether.
• It must be clear that the email is an advertisement.
• The email must include your physical postal address.
• Emails may not be sent to addresses that have been “harvested” from websites.
The CAN-SPAM laws are summarized on the FTC website.
There are no legal restrictions against companies emailing their own customers or prospects, whether or not they have express permission for doing so. However, email service providers’ policies on this vary a great deal. Some require a strict opt-in only policy, while others give advertisers more leeway. Service providers are primarily concerned about maintaining a high deliverability rate and staying on the good side of ISPs.