Yes, Cold Emails Are Legal (Sometimes)

March 18, 2021

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 came into being to stop the flood of unsolicited commercial email. It is enforced mainly by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which can impose fines up to $16,000 per violation with no maximum penalty. So, if you are a planning to do cold email marketing, it's a good idea to stay on the right side of the law. Here. we'll talk about what that means.

What is spam?

A history of spam defined spam as "unsolicited bulk email campaigns." In countries with spam laws, the most common legal definition is unsolicited commercial email. The U.S. is more forgiving; it allows unsolicited emails except for emails that are fraudulent or that are sent after the recipient told the sender to stop.

The name comes from an old Monty Python skit in which a group of actors dressed as Vikings shout "spam," drowning out everyone else.

No one likes spam because, most of the time, it is an annoying intrusion that has nothing to do with the recipient's needs and interests. Internet service providers dislike spam because it swamps their systems.

Spam is the marketing equivalent of throwing pasta against the wall in the hope something will stick. It is usually sent to cold contacts on purchased lists. List providers claim to be the exception to the rule: "our list is better because we did XYZ to make sure contacts want to hear from you." This is sometimes, but rarely, true.

In fact, the dominant email service provider (ESP) for small businesses, Mailchimp, specifically prohibits purchased lists. So do other leading ESP's like AWeber and Campaign Monitor.

As Nancy Kerrigan would say, "Whhhhy?"

Well, most of the time, unsolicited emails are not relevant to the goals or interests of recipients. They are the marketing equivalent of throwing pasta against the wall in the hope that something will stick.

What happens if I send unsolicited email?

No one likes spam. No one. So, unsolicited email always involves a level of risk. If recipients flag your emails as spam, the sending domains and IP addresses are blocked.

miami writer logo
© Copyright 2021 Julie Ross Myers