CAN-SPAM Compliance: Breaking it Down


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Why Legitimate App Email is Mistaken for Spam Some of the most common questions we hear from customers are “What is CAN-SPAM Compliance?” or “What is the CAN-SPAM law?”.

Fortunately, as experts in email deliverability, we’re here to help! We’ve put together an easy CAN-SPAM FAQ, and the steps you can take to make sure your email campaign is CAN-SPAM compliant.

What is CAN-SPAM?

CAN-SPAM is short for the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which is a law that was signed into effect to set rules for commercial electronic messages and provide recipients with the right to request that messages stop getting sent to them.

Why should I care about CAN-SPAM?

Organizations that violate the CAN-SPAM Act can face penalties up to $16,000 per message that is in violation. In addition to this, multiple parties can be held responsible (both the sender that originated the message and the company who is being advertised) for messages.

What messages are covered by CAN-SPAM?

CAN-SPAM covers all commercial electronic messages, which are defined as any electronic message with the primary purpose of commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service. This includes email that promotes website content.

How do I ensure that my messages are CAN-SPAM compliant?

CAN-SPAM compliance isn’t a one-step, one-time thing that you can do to your messages. Rather, there are 7 main requirements for senders to employ in order to achieve CAN-SPAM compliance:

  1. Do not use false or misleading header information
  2. Do not use deceptive subject lines
  3. Identify the message as an advertisement
  4. Inform recipients of where you are located
  5. Inform recipients of how to opt-out of receiving future messages
  6. Honor opt-out requests as promptly as possible
  7. Monitor messages that are sent on your behalf

You can also download our Email Deliverability Guide to learn even more ways to ensure your email isn’t considered spam!

Will making my messages CAN-SPAM compliant make sure they get to the inbox?

It’s difficult to make sure your messages get delivered to the inbox, but making your messages CAN-SPAM compliant certainly helps. Following the CAN-SPAM requirements can improve your sending reputation and help lower spam reports.

Are there any other laws or requirements I need to follow?

In addition to CAN-SPAM, Canada has recently signed a law that goes into effect July 2014. The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) has it’s own requirements that are designed to prevent spam messages being sent to Canadian recipients. For organizations sending email into Canada, make sure you read the SendGrid Blog post: Canadian Anti-Spam Law: What You Need to Know.

To learn about more tactics that will help get your email delivered to the inbox, we suggest you download the SendGrid Tips and Tricks Email Guide. Our guide provides advice and suggestions that you can employ to improve your email deliverability. And to read more specifics on CAN-SPAM, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Please note: the tips above are not legal advice, you should get professional advice from a lawyer to address any specific concerns around compliance.


Warren is a Marketing Copywriter at SendGrid, specializing in email and content best practices.

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