Can You Send Marketing Emails to Companies?

Want to know the laws of sending marketing emails to other companies? Avoid the consequences with these tips!

Kate Neuer
July 28, 2022

Let's say your business profile is great, your lead-generator marketing tactics are in place, but you want to make sure you are sending the right information to other businesses if you do wish to get support and sales from other companies.

It’s incredibly quick and easy to get started, and today’s email marketing tools make it simple for marketers of all levels to create a campaign, upload a list, and send it out.

However, before you begin sending out campaigns, it’s worthwhile to have a basic understanding of the laws around email marketing to ensure your campaigns aren’t breaking any.

Read on to learn about the laws surrounding email marketing and the things you need to do to ensure your email marketing initiatives are following them. 


Table of Contents

Why It's Good Marketing to Send to Companies

Marketing to other companies may seem like a death sentence for businesses. But if sending the right emails and complying to the marketing laws surrounding emails, you can quickly see the benefits of letting other businesses become aware of your brand and value, especially if you have a B2B platform.

Sending marketing emails can be daunting to begin with, whether you send them to a business or average users. Email can be a powerful tool. They give you agency where you will see how well your marketing does while simultaneously giving others information about your brand.

Big or small, every business also benefits from subtly sharing that they comply with valid laws. This validity you give yourself, whether you comply with GDPR regulations or CAN-SPAM, shows your subscribers that you are a legit business with content worth of transactional communications. The right platform can easily help you comply with laws, international and national, by providing templates with company address block, unsubscribe button, and more.


Is Spam Legal?

Spam emails account for 45% of all emails. Not just marketing emails. ALL emails. Unfortunately, some companies exploit email marketing and send spam. These acts could be seen as criminal activity according to the CAN-SPAM Act. Other times, the content may be good, but the sender may have disregarded the rules that revolve around email marketing. This brings us to the question, is cold emailing a gray area?

You can send marketing emails to business contacts you don’t even know. It’s 100% legal as long as it meets the CAN-SPAM requirements.

In 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act was enacted, which gives the recipient of the email the right to stop receiving emails. This applies to electronic messages whose primary purpose is to promote commercial products/services.

To sum up, spam email is legal. Not all spam email is legal unless you follow the CAN-SPAM requirements. And remember: not all illegal emails are spam. So it is more important to know if you send legal emails rather than worrying if you send spam emails.

What Are the Email Marketing Laws?

Many people seem to carry the misconception that any cold or unsolicited email is spam, and that spam is illegal. 

There is a lot to unpack here, but let us start by making clear that if all cold emails were illegal, we wouldn’t be driving successful email marketing campaigns for thousands of companies worldwide.

To start with, let’s clarify the distinction between spam and illegal email. Spam is not a legal or official term, and definitions vary. A spam message may not be illegal, and an illegal message may not be spam.


The CAN-SPAM Act, enacted in 2003, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out penalties for violations.


The Act applies to “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” 

To follow the CAN-SPAM law, you must follow the legal requirements below:

Easy Opt-out

The first requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act is that recipients must have a way of opting out of your messages. An opt-out can be as easy as an unsubscribe link. Or you can ask the recipient to email you back for email list removal. Whatever the opt-out method is, it must notify the recipient that there is something they can do if they don’t want to receive messages from you.

Opt-outs Must Be Honored Within 10 Days

Once someone opts out of your messages, you have 10 days to get them off your email list. If you are emailing more than a handful of prospects, you will likely need a marketing or sales automation tool to track these unsubscribes. Manually processing email replies with “unsubscribe” in the subject line is not a measurable strategy.

No Misleading Subject Lines

All marketers could get great open rates if they used spam subject lines and email titles like, “URGENT: News about your mother’s health”—except disgraceful tactics like this violate the CAN-SPAM Act.

You can still be clever, however. Some of the best subject lines are intentionally brief without being misleading. You might try the following tactics to make users see the cleverness of your business alongside the professionalism:

  • Send a personal email: "Hi Karen, want free jeans with ANY purchase?"
  • Humor: "Knock knock. Who's there? Half off doorbells! (And select home improvement items)

Address Correctly

To be compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act, include your company’s physical address at the bottom of your message. This can be a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service. 

This is not an exhaustive list of requirements set forth in the CAN-SPAM Act, so do a deep dive into the CAN-SPAM Act and/or consult your attorney before launching your first cold email campaign. The key takeaway is this: You can send cold emails—you just have to make sure you’re following the guidelines set out in the statute. 

The CAN-SPAM Act, of course, applies only in the United States. If you are sending emails to other countries, you need to make sure you understand the laws of those countries.

Monitor What Others Do on Your Behalf

The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.


A quick note on consent in terms of email marketing. Consent in email marketing is a freely given agreement that is reached for the specific purpose of sending emails is the definition of consent in email marketing.

Not responding to emails, or general inactivity, do not count as consent. When you send cold emails to potential subscribers, you are not only asking for their consent but also the right to store the actual proof of that consent.

You should put a system in place where everything will be kept up to date, regarding your recipients’ preferences. That will show what you told them in your message requesting consent, what they agreed to, and when and how they gave their consent.

The FTC Act

The FTC enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception and unfair business practices. The Commission also enforces federal antitrust laws that prohibit anti-competitive mergers and other business practices that could lead to higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation.


Whether combating telemarketing fraud, Internet scams or price-fixing schemes, the FTC’s mission is to protect consumers and promote competition.

The FTC administers a wide variety of laws and regulations, including the Federal Trade Commission Act, Telemarketing Sale Rule, Identity Theft Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Clayton Act. In total, the Commission has enforcement or administrative responsibilities under more than 70 laws.

What Is GDPR?

The European Data Protection Regulation is applicable as of May 25th, 2018 in all member states to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe.


All of these laws we covered dictate a number of conditions that email marketers need to follow to avoid significant fines.

While this may sound intimidating, if you’re a legitimate business using a proper email marketing tool to send legitimate email campaigns, you are likely already complying with the rules.

You may that getting yourself an advertising data processor will help with keeping the privacy of your prospect leads, thus further ensuring you're following the email marketing laws and not missing the privacy policy expiry.

Know Who You Are Marketing To

Segmenting all your leads and subscribers and implementing different requirements can be a bit difficult and time-consuming. The easiest option for doing international email outreach is to comply with all anti-spam laws to make your emails legal wherever you send them.

You can market to anyone, but it goes without saying that if you send to the right audience, you're more likely to see engagement from your emails. Know which companies you are marketing to. It's smart to send emails that are relevant to each individual company as well.

How to Comply to Marketing Laws

You would not want to ruin your own company's reputation, right? Businesses are hurt badly when they do not comply with email marketing laws. Sending solicited emails alone is not illegal, but when you send a non-compliant email, there are costly consequences and risk of hard bounces, unsubscribers or reported emails, and emails going into the spam inboxes more often.

Make Sure You Have Permission to Email to Your Contacts

The definition of permission varies between each country’s laws, but there are generally two types of permission: implied permission and express permission.

Implied permission describes those with whom you have an existing business relationship. This could be because they are a current customer, donate to your charity, or are an active member of your website, club, or community.

If you don’t have implied permission to email a person, then you’ll need express permission. Express permission is granted when someone specifically gives you permission to send them email campaigns, potentially by entering their email address in a subscribe form on your website or entering their details into your in-store newsletter subscribe form.

Don't Use Misleading Headers

“Header information” refers to the extra information sent along with your email campaign, such as the “from” name, subject line, and reply-to address.

Email marketing laws stipulate that you must not include incorrect or misleading information in these fields to try to trick people into opening your email campaigns.

The key is not to purposely deceive your recipients. Arousing curiosity or getting creative with your subject line is perfectly acceptable, as long as you don’t purposely try to deceive recipients.

Clearly State Your Email Is an Advertisement

CAN-SPAM laws stipulate that you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that your message is an advertisement.

The law gives a lot of leeway in how you do this, and you don’t need to specifically state “This email is an advertisement” every time you send a campaign. It’s more about not purposely deceiving your recipients into thinking this is a personal email.

Include an Opt-out Choice

Most email marketing laws stipulate that your email campaigns include a clear and conspicuous mechanism for opting out of receiving emails from you in the future, and that this mechanism is easy for an ordinary person to recognize and understand.

The CAN-SPAM laws stipulate that you must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days, and that you cannot charge a fee to opt them out, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website to opt out.

Include Your Address

Most countries’ email marketing laws stipulate that you must clearly include a valid postal address for your business in your email campaigns. This can be your current street address, a postbox address, or an address with a registered commercial mail-receiving company.

Also, make sure your “From:” and “Reply to:” fields accurately represent you and your company. You can’t pull tricks like making up multiple generic domains to mask your identity or circumvent email filters.

Consequences of Not Following Email Marketing Laws

If you follow the above list of precautions when you send email marketing messages, you are less likely to have provider issues and violation of privacy laws.

But what if you find that you aren't following a privacy policy or any of the regulations listed above? Some of the consequences may be surprising and hurt your platform and business as a whole. 

Some new consequences enacted in the last few years include heavy fines. According to the FTC, each separate email in violation of the law, whether there is a breach of personal data or even skipping the step of putting in your business address, is subject to penalties of up to $46,517.

And more than one person may be held responsible for violations. For example, both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that originated the message (including the platform) may be legally responsible.

There is no exception to these laws, even for business-to-business content.

What's Next?

Before you begin sending campaigns for your business, it’s important to understand the laws around email marketing and how to comply with them. If your emails are not country specific, make sure whichever country you send an email to follows the email regulations according to those countries.

From your contact lists, you can segment contacts into different groups and make sure each email campaign sent to each follows GDPR, CAN-SPAM laws and more. This will also result in more eyeballs on your website and fewer (hopefully no) bad reports on your screen.

Using email marketing software like TruVISIBILITY makes complying with these rules easy. You get the tools you need to build your email list in the right way with marketing email templates that already help you comply with GDPR and other laws, and the software automatically handles the unsubscribe process and backend list management to ensure you meet the requirements around users unsubscribing from campaigns.

By combining one professional email marketing tool with some basic regulation around the use of the subject line and “from” name, you can easily send campaigns that meet the legal requirements and drive results, including sales, for your business.

You will see regulations already built in the templates, such as privacy, company address, easy unsubscribe option, and more widgets. Send marketing emails for free today!