How to Get Your Email Marketing Messages Marked as Spam


In recent years, email marketing has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of engaging with customers and growing a business. But according to the spam laws in the U.S. and the U.K., using deceptive or misleading email campaigns to promote a product or service can get you in hot water.

To avoid penalties, you need to understand how to use email marketing in a manner that complies with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

In the U.S., it is illegal to send bulk email marketing without a prior disclosure that this is an advertisement. Violations can result in stiff penalties, including $50,000 per incident and four years in prison.

In the U.K., the law on commercial communications prohibits businesses from sending non-personal emails without stating the purpose of the email. Fines of up to £500,000 or 4% of a business’ global turnover can be imposed for serious offenses.

To comply with the spam laws, you need to:

  • Identify the purpose of the email communication
  • Give the recipients the ability to opt-out of receiving future communications
  • Avoid any duplication of addresses
  • Properly track and report email marketing activities

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires that any message delivered via email give the recipient the ability to “opt-out” of receiving future commercial messages. Opting-out is easy – just follow the instructions on the email.

The Difference Between Personal and Business Email

To comply with the CAN-SPAM act, businesses that purchase lists of email addresses from brokers and other third parties, usually generate business or marketing emails that are personalized. A surprising number of email marketers still use the same email template for both personal and business communications, which can cause problems when they are accidentally sent to non-optinized addresses.

To avoid this issue, it is advisable to:

  • Use two different email addresses – one for personal use and one for business use
  • Only send emails regarding business interests
  • Avoid attaching any files that are larger than 5MB
  • Check your spam folder regularly for messages that were sent to it by mistake
  • Never send emails advertising other products or services
  • Properly track and report email marketing activities

Emails that are sent from business accounts typically carry some form of disclaimer to notify the recipient that the contents of the email are intended for business purposes and that they should not be replying to this message or using it for any other purpose.

How to Identify the Purpose of Your Email

According to the CAN-SPAM Act, before you send an email, you need to identify the purpose of the communication. Why are you contacting the person or organization you’re contacting? What action do you want the person or organization to take?

When marketers and business executives think about email marketing, they usually think about getting a list of contacts, blasting out a few messages, and then tracking the results.

But the steps you need to take to get started with email marketing go well beyond simply sending out a few emails and then marking them as successful or unsuccessful. You need to set-up automated email campaigns that will reach your target audience at the right time, with the right message, and in accordance with the CAN-SPAM Act.

How to Design an Email Marketing Campaign That Complies With The CAN-SPAM Act

There are several steps you need to take to ensure that your email marketing complies with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Before you begin designing your email marketing campaign, it’s important to set-up automated rules that will help you identify and remove any duplicate or suspicious email addresses from your list.

Duplicate or suspicious email addresses are typically signs of spam. If you receive several emails from the same address, especially if they contain high volumes of sales pitches or attempt to up-sale a product or service, it’s likely that this address is generated by a spammer. If you discover that one of your email addresses is a duplicate or suspicious, it’s a good idea to:

  • Contact the company that owns the address, and request it be removed from your list
  • Delete the address from your list
  • Update your newsletter or blog articles to reflect the change

To avoid the risk of getting caught up in the crossfire of a spammers’ attack, it’s important to review the companies you’re doing business with and whether or not they’re reputable.

Where To Start?

To get started with email marketing, you’ll need a list of email contacts. Depending on the size of your business or organization, you can either hire a list compiler to get a decent chunk of contacts for you or you can do it yourself. A list of contacts that is already pre-made can be a great way to get your foot in the door and get started.

One of the first steps to setting up your automated email marketing campaign is to establish your email marketing platform. You can use a service like MailChimp to get started. MailChimp gives you the ability to create automated campaigns that will allow you to get started quickly and easily while also complying with the CAN-SPAM Act.

Get A Professional Logo

The logo you include at the top of your emails will help establish your email’s theme and tone. When designing your logo, keep in mind that you’re going to be using this logo on your website and in all forms of media. Once you have your logo, you can use it in all your marketing material – including sales letters, emails, and social media posts.

Your logo should reflect your brand identity – it should be simple, memorable, and immediately recognizable. To grab the attention of your readers, use a colorful and contrasting logo to draw the eye to your message.

Create An Introductory Email

Once you have your list of contacts and a logo at the ready, it’s time to create an introductory email that will be used to get the conversation started. This email should include a compelling headline, a short but descriptive paragraph, and call to action – in other words, a powerful reason for the recipient to action you by clicking a link or using a special promotional code.

The goal here is to get the reader to take some kind of action – whether that’s signing up for your newsletter, checking out a specific product or service, or filling out a form. Whatever the action is, your introductory email should quickly and clearly explain what’s in it for the reader.

After the introductory email, you can include a standard welcoming message, followed by a similarly worded confirmation email that confirms the details of the transaction.

Set Up Autoresponder For Follow-Up Emails

You can include additional emails in your campaign to follow-up with your contacts and to continue the marketing relationship. These emails should be sent out according to a pre-set schedule – either daily or weekly, depending on your preference and the nature of your product or service.

The advantage of having additional emails in your campaign is that you can segment your contact list based on previous activity or interest. If you notice that certain recipients are not acting like typical customers and are constantly hitting the “unsubscribe” button, you may want to remove them from your list.

By setting up an autoresponder email series, you can easily send a series of follow-up emails to your contacts without having to manually update your list every time you send out a new email.

Design Your Email’s Content According To The Perfect Readership

When designing your email’s content, keep in mind the person you’re writing to – what would make them interested in your message and what would turn them off?

You can use information from your email’s open rates to get a sense of whether or not your efforts to grab the attention of your readers were successful. But keep in mind that not all opened emails will result in a sale – in fact, many won’t.

For individuals, it’s usually a combination of a) the opening paragraph or first few sentences of the email; b) the logo at the top of the email; and c) the offer or call to action at the bottom of the email.

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