When Is It Okay to Email a Person Who Opted Out?

Sending emails to someone who opted out of receiving your emails is a taboo subject with most marketers.  It’s easier to say you must never contact the individual than to explain the exceptions, so the subject is often swept under the rug. You can and should send transactional emails when they apply, even if the individual has previously opted out.

Why isn’t this more widely discussed?  Email messaging and unsubscribe processes must comply with something called the CANSPAM Act, short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, US Congress, 2003. Noncompliance with this act is subject to a fine of up to $16,000 – per email address!

The CANSPAM Act was never intended to keep someone who opted out from receiving an important message about a transaction, invoice, or customer service matter. If you’re engaging with a contact at this level about an existing relationship, it is correct to send what is referenced as a transactional email.

What is a Transactional Email? The primary purpose is usually to discuss a transaction, account, warranty, or other terms, but it may also be about a relationship or customer service. Transactional emails do not promote a product or service.

Is there a marketing opportunity in transactional emails? There are smart companies putting brief messages at the bottom of transactional emails in ways that may ask for the customer to back in, or to share a message with marketing value. This is an opportunity to open a door that your customer previously shut. However, it must be done very carefully to not violate the CANSPAM Act and it is best to engage an email professional to set up your messaging.