A Quick Refresher on Cold Emailing Laws

Gabrielle Hughes
Content Marketing Manager

Cold emailing (under most circumstances) should be viewed as a huge positive for your company. Not only is it the fastest way to generate a high volume of business, but it can ultimately help solve people’s pain when they might not otherwise have found your service.

There are however, laws in some countries about reaching out to cold contacts. This has left a lot of people asking is cold emailing actually legal?

Enacted in 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, while outlining penalties for violations. The Act applies to “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”

So, how can you avoid getting into trouble?

Opt-out options

For any cold email that is sent, recipients must have a way of opting out of your messages. This can range from a simple unsubscribe link to you asking the recipient to email you back if they’d like to be removed from the list.

And remember - once someone opts out of your messages, you only have 10 days to get them off your email list. This can get messy if you’re emailing hundreds or even thousands of prospects. Luckily, there are a variety of sales and marketing automation tools that can track these unsubscribes.

No misleading subject lines

It’d be easy to increase open rates if you titled an email “URGENT: Your kids are in danger.” However, these Michael Scott-like tactics will put you in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be clever, though. You might try subject lines that are curiosity-piquing but honest, like:

Humor: “I like you better than my nephew right now.”

Personalization: “Thought you might find this useful, [Prospect Name].”

Sense of urgency: “It’s too bad you missed my last call.”

Stay true to yourself

With any note that you send out, make sure you accurately represent you and your company. There’s more risk than return at stake when you make up generic domains to hide your identity. Always use your name in the “From” and “Reply to” fields and include your company’s address in the email.

While this is not the full list of CAN-SPAM Act requirements, you should not be afraid to take on cold email outreach. But remember, the CAN-SPAM Act applies only to the United States. If you are sending emails to other countries, you need to make sure you understand the laws of those countries (i.e. Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation and the EU E-Privacy Directive in Europe).

Want more cold email tips? Check out our guide here.

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