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Why All Cold Email Isn’t Spam: CAN-SPAM & Successful Cold Emails

4 Min Read Written by: emerged

Cold emails. Two words that give many people chills. And if the third word that popped into your head after reading cold emails was “spam – well, you’re not alone. However, to the surprise of many, they actually aren’t one and the same.

In fact, in this age of digital communications, we believe cold emails can be a highly effective strategic form of lead generation. All it takes is a little time, research, and personality to turn that cold email into your next (potential) client. And really, outside of the occasional network event, what other option besides cold-calling do you have to get in front of new prospects?

So you might be asking “what is spam then?”. Spam refers specifically to the guidelines within the CAN-SPAM Act. When it comes to standing out and staying out of legal trouble, the first step in creating a compelling cold email is familiarizing yourself with the policy, a list of dos and don’ts to ensure your email is in compliance with Federal regulations.

Now, we realize this sounds intimidating.  After years of helping clients create successful cold email campaigns, we’ve honed in on the key takeaways from the act that also serves as a handy roadmap to writing the perfect cold email.

Before we share that roadmap, a brief history and some FAQs on the CAN-SPAM act: 

Created in 2003, the US Government decided to create some rules to reign in the deluge of (mostly unwanted) emails flooding everyone’s digital inboxes. Those rules became what is officially known as Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing; now affectionately known as CAN-SPAM. 

Who does that CAN-SPAM Act apply to?

Any “email from commercial enterprises sending non-transactional or non-relationship message falls under the umbrella.” For example, an email to John Doe introducing yourself, even if you did not include a sales pitch, must abide by the guidelines. However, an email sent to an industry colleague who you already know and asking to set a quick call, would not.

Does the CAN-SPAM Act apply to emails sent to people in non-US countries?

No, it does not. Countries like Canada and Germany have even stricter regulations. We recommended working with your legal team when creating emails for non-US countries and territories.

What are the penalties for ignoring the CAN-SPAM act?

The FTC is responsible for enforcing the CAN-SPAM act who can impose fines up to $16,000 per incident. However, you could potentially incur penalties and other citations from your web hosting company, domain registrar, and even your marketing automation services. It’s important to note that not all automation services allow cold email so be sure to read the T&Cs.

 Now that’s out of the way, we can get to the fun part – that handy roadmap we mentioned earlier.

Step One – Creating Compliant, Catchy, and Personalized Subject Lines

Misleading subject lines are to be avoided at all costs. Not only are they prohibited by the CAN-SPAM Act, they quickly undermine any credibility and integrity in your business.

Think about emails that catch your attention.

Were they intriguing? “How to maximize treatment reimbursement”

Were they personalized to you? “Hi David, Dr. Jones thought we should connect”

Was there a sense of urgency? “Lunch meetup this week?”

This is your first impression with your potential customer. Often it’s worth the extra time to make it something memorable. However, subject lines don’t always have to be super creative – they can be authentic to your message and communication style.  

Step Two – Authenticity never goes out of style

People want to do business with real people. People who they feel they can trust.

Even with digital communications, audiences today are pretty quick to see through emails with an ulterior motive.

Ways to establish credibility with your recipient is to use your real contact information in the “from” line of your email and include your business address (both required by – you guessed it – the CAN-SPAM Act).

Think about it from your perspective – are you more likely to open an email from “Alison from Emerged” or “Emerged Marketing Team”?

Including your address can be something as simple as adding it to your signature. There’s no need to build a whole template to remain compliant.

Step Three – Be Respectful

You might have written a subject line worthy of a Pulitzer, written authentic, compelling copy that really aligns with your target client, and put in hours of research narrowing down your target distribution list and you STILL might receive a request to be removed from your email list.

Sadly, these things happen. And, when they do, you must honor that request within ten days of receiving it.

Our handy roadmap, the CAN-SPAM act requires that all recipients have the easy option to be removed from email lists with commercial offers. Should a recipient ever respond requesting to not be contacted again – you must respect their wishes if you want to avoid being fined. That’s why you’ll always see an unsubscribe link at the bottom of all your favorite newsletters and marketing emails.

While specific unsubscribe links do not need to be included in your cold emails, we include a tactful note with a link to opt-out for the best consumer experience and to avoid any inaccurate or unwanted “Report Spam” complaints.

Let’s get emailing 

We hope you now feel more equipped to navigate the world of cold emails and recognize that cold email isn’t actually “spam”, as long are you’re staying compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act.

Our team at Emerged is always happy to answer questions and help you build strategic, successful cold-email campaigns to start successful sales conversations with your desired prospects.

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; readers should contact their attorney with respect to any particular legal matter.