Are Unsolicited Emails Illegal?

Direct Mail Best Practices
December 28, 2018
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January 23, 2019
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Are Unsolicited Emails Illegal?

How do you know who may be interested in what your business has to offer? Once you find them, how do you target them? If you send out random, unsolicited emails, you may be doing yourself more of a disservice. While you may find a few new customers, you’re taking the risk of annoying a good part of the population who may have given you a shot, but are now turned off by your unsolicited email. Now they’re going to take their business elsewhere.

How can you avoid this from happening to you?

Develop a mailing list of a targeted audience who has either shown interest in your business or is likely to have an interest in it. Makes sense, right? This way you’re not wasting your time and money and you’re not annoying potential customers.

But, if you still want to try sending unsolicited emails, there are some things you should know before hitting the send button.

Rules about Unsolicited Email

While sending unsolicited email is not illegal, you can get in trouble as an advertiser if you don’t follow certain rules. There are protections in place to keep people from being inundated repeatedly with unwanted emails. People are very protective of their inboxes and don’t want to be harassed.

Before sending out emails, familiarize yourself with these rules:


The CAN-SPAM Act, or “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act” of 2003 was put into place to regulate the practices of commercial e-mailers. This act states that you need to be crystal clear about who you are, what you’re selling and that the email is a solicitation. To follow the rules your business’ physical address and contact information must also be included.

One more thing…

You have to also include a link that people can easily go to if they don’t want to get your emails anymore. If they choose that option, you need to honor that request within 10 days and stop flooding their inbox!

If you disobey any of the rules of the CAN-SPAM Act, the Federal Trade Commission can fine you as much as $11,000.


Another rule regarding unsolicited emails is the GDPR, or the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. This went into effect in May of 2018. It is one of the biggest data privacy acts to be enacted in the past 20 years and aims to protect the personal information of anyone in the European Union. While you may think U.S. companies are exempt, they’re not. If your company receives web traffic from European Union visitors, then you must comply with the GDPR.

Under the GDPR, if your company collects personal information to send emails, then you must first ask consent before getting that information. If you offer a piece of content on your website and then ask for the person’s email address in order for them to see it, you must be very clear about how their information is going to be used, give them the choice to opt out of future emails, and provide a link to your GDPR compliant privacy policy as well. If they don’t agree, you shouldn’t send them emails. It’s that simple.

If you intend to send unsolicited email, you need to abide by these rules. If not, you can be fined. Also, keep this in mind. People want to do business with companies they can trust. If people can’t trust you to do something simple like not send them email they don’t want, how can they trust the services or products you’re providing?

Opt for Email Lists Instead

After hearing about all of the rules regarding emails you may be turned off from trying to send them. Don’t be. Understand that there are better ways of going about it. Working from an email list is much more efficient. The experts at Mailing List Connection can help develop a list of targeted email addresses. These are people who are more likely to support your business.

At Mailing List Connection, we tailor your email list to your business. If you need automotive mailing lists, we can tailor these to antique car owners, new car owners and even RV owners, just to name a few. We can also customize email lists for property owners. These are examples of just two areas where we can help.

We consider factors like demographics, geography, and target market when compiling our lists. This process can dramatically increase your success rate compared to sending unsolicited emails to people who have zero interest in what you’re selling.

When you send out emails from a list you are showing your potential customers that you’ve also done your homework. You know they have an interest and can use this to your advantage to even personalize your emails. This will make people feel as though they already have a connection with your business before spending one cent. This will make them more apt to find out more about your business and patronize it.

Get the most out of your email campaign and partner with Mailing List Connection. Let our team of experts show you how it’s done!

Call Mailing List Connection today at 469-549-4000 to get started. Find out why so many people trust Mailing List Connection with their marketing needs!

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