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Working within CAN-SPAM

On this page, we discuss the CAN-SPAM Act 2003 rules, what they mean and how we can all safely work within them. The Act is a US national standard, signed into law by President George W Bush in 2003. CAN-SPAM derives from the wording:

Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing.

Marketwise Mini Guide to CAN-SPAM

In many ways, CAN-SPAM is less onerous than its European equivalent, GDPR. Firstly, CAN-SPAM only applies to electronic messages that are primarily related to sales and marketing activities of a commercial product.  GDPR covers any type of interaction. There are three main topic areas that are covered by CAN-SPAM:


The message content

  1. The Subject line must not mislead. It should not deceive the recipient in order to increase the chances of opening the message.
  2. The “From” field must accurately represent who the message is from.
  3. Physical address. There must be an accurate physical address listed in the content of the message.
  4. Adult content. If the content of a message could be classified as adult content, the message must contain a clear warning label.

Message sending requirements

  1. There must be an unsubscribe option, which additionally must be below the message content
  2. Messages must contain at least one sentence.
  3. A message cannot by empty “null”.
  4. The message cannot be sent to harvested email addresses.

Unsubscribing requirements

  1. Unsubscribing requests must be implemented within 10 business days.
  2. Suppression lists must be used, to ensure unsubscribed users wishes are respected.
  3. Unsubscribe requests cannot ask for money.
  4. An unsubscribe request landing page must use a single webpage
  5. A simple email reply to unsubscribe is acceptable.
  6. The only information requested in order to unsubscribe, is an email address and any opt-out preferences.

Marketwise has worked within CAN-SPAM rules for many years. If you have any questions about your compliance, please get in contact.

For more details, visit our page on avoiding spam folders.

Get our top tips on running a successful email campaign for scientists by clicking the link below.