Question: I want to juice up our transactional emails so we can get some marketing mileage out of them, because they have a better open rate than our regular newsletters. What can I do that will keep them legal under CAN-SPAM?
Answer: Transactional emails represent an untapped resource because recipients look for them and open them more often, as you have said. You have some latitude to add some marketing content to emails sent to confirm a purchase, registration, bill payment or other transaction. But remember, the primary purpose of the email must be to provide the transactional information.
If half or more of the content is commercial, though, it tilts the balance from transactional to commercial, and CAN-SPAM rules would apply. In particular, you would need to add a working unsubscribe link and physical postal address, which is never a bad practice for any message, transactional or not.
- Add only 1 commercial element such as an opt-in invitation, a link to related or complementary purchases, or an offer to download a white paper.
- Place the commercial material in the bottom half of the message body so that the transactional element is clearly visible at the top of the email, in case the recipient reads the message in the preview pane.
- Make sure the subject line reflects the transaction, not the offers.