How to Legally Send Marketing Emails to People Who Haven't Subscribed

With the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 in place, email marketers are significantly limited by what and who they can send emails to. However, it's not illegal to send marketing emails to someone who has not specifically requested to join your email list. Many people buy email addresses of consumers to grow their email lists. This type of email marketing is called "cold emailing." While these consumers are usually less likely to engage with your business than those who opted-in to your list, the process can still generate leads. But you should know that many of the most popular email marketing platforms won't let you send emails to people who didn't intentionally subscribe to you. Constant Contact, MailChimp and Campaign Monitor are some of these email providers who don't allow purchased lists.

Before reading the rest of this blog post, please note that it's not advisable to purchase lists and conduct email marketing to people who haven't actually subscribed. This blog post is isn't designed to encourage cold emailing, but rather to help you proceed with email marketing, even if you have contacts who haven't subscribed. To learn how to acquire hire quality email addresses, read our blog post titled The Best Ways to Grow Your Email List.

Now, let's discuss the platforms which do allow you to send cold emails, and how to avoid CAN-SPAM Act complaints.

Platforms Which Allow You to Legally Send Cold Emails for Marketing


SalesHandy sends automated cold emails and tracks your email campaigns. It comes with features such as link tracking, document tracking, email tracking, auto-follow-up, and more. Additionally, it has multiple trigger options like not replied and not opened so you can be sure you have everything at your fingertips.

To ensure better customer engagement, the platform provides tools to monitor customer behavior and evaluate sales performance. When sending emails, you can set time intervals to safeguard your inbox from spam filters. You can also schedule the campaign when the recipient is likely to open it. But what happens when you’ve exhausted the email sending limit? The campaign will switch to waiting mode.

Another notable feature is the tracking option. You can easily monitor and share your documents. Whenever the viewer opens your document, you can get a real-time desktop notification. Apart from that, you can track the document when the prospect opens it. This helps you better understand prospects' behaviors that align with your sales strategy. Be sure to select the date and preferred time zone. This helps to ensure your recipients will be online and active when you send them emails.

You can also see your scheduled email in the "recent activity feed." Still, you can set the expiry time of the document so the recipient can only see the information after a specific time. Whether you want file-sharing or live meetings, this platform gets the job done. The latest stats suggest that personalized emails improve the conversion rate by 10%. is a simple email prospecting tool that allows you to find prospects and reach out to them. You can power up your prospecting efforts and measure everything with analytics. But what makes this user-friendly tool unique is that it aims at reaching out to more clients. focuses on building your email list with their easy-to-use list building tool.

The other noteworthy feature is tracking the prospect. Needless to say, you can filter the prospects based on job title or industry. Throughout your campaign, you can monitor each prospect and keep your list organized. But first, you have to name your campaign before you compose the emails. Along with that, you can select options like the day the email is sent. Even better, you can indicate whether you want an email reply or not. Another great feature is that you can see how many prospects respond to your emails.

In the reports section, you can view the statistics on the number of emails sent. You can also see the number of conversions and bounces and select a specific timeframe to review. Unlike the other platforms, comes with extensions that come in handy when you want to create a list and add articles. Of course, the user-friendly interface allows you to send emails to groups. This is a time-saver if you want to reach out to a wider audience.


LemList offers an affordable way to reach out to prospects. It’s the first email platform that allows users to generate images and videos. This makes email content much more engaging and high-quality. With their tracking feature, you can boost your engagement and grow your leads. LemList's analytics can help you improve your email content as you can get to know what your audience prefers.

Other features include click tracking, sending algorithm, and campaign wizard. But that’s not all; you can set up sequences of emails or stop the campaign when the prospect opens an email. Their system can differentiate out-of-office messages and genuine responses. This helps you acquire more accurate analytics. Keep in mind that split testing is key to improving the metrics. The entire platform is built for users who want to edit their campaigns. About 50% of customers will ignore an email that isn't personalized.


Klenty offers you consistency when it comes to sending cold emails. Depending on the plan you choose, you won’t take much of an economic hit. You have two different plan methods (annually and monthly) and three different categories to choose from (Startup, Growth and Enterprise). Klenty allows you to send cold emails straight from your own email account, giving you complete control of your email deliverability. You can also use custom domain tracking to monitor whenever a user opens or clicks a link. Klenty also lets you customize when you send your cold emails with the help of its Email Interval.

Klenty beautifully combines email automation and personalization together. This is done with features like custom placeholders to make emails more engaging to users. This platform also enables you to create a new automated message, which triggers based on how the email recipient  has engaged with your original emails to them.

Lastly, for those who are agencies, or have multiple brands they work with, Kently offers a convenient "agency" dashboard that helps the user organize all their campaigns. You get access to every client or brand with a single click via the dashboard, and you can monitor emails that are scheduled to be sent and already sent. You will also be able to note which accounts you will be paying for, and which accounts you will need to deactivate.


Automating your email outreach is made easy with a tool like Mailshake, which helps you to identify your best leads. You'll be able to see what's working particularly well with your various campaigns by performing A/B split tests. With this platform, you'll also be able to engage with users via social media or by phone. There is a built-in phone dialer that helps you simplify your daily workflow.

If you have a Gmail address, Mailshake can accommodate your use of Google by allowing you to send emails from that address. When it comes to email designs, you can use the simple and customizable templates that Mailshake provides. At a minimum you get 5,000 monthly list-cleaning credits and 5,000 recipients for each email campaign you launch. Mailshake offers two separate plans (monthly and yearly) that have two different categories (Email Outreach and Sales Engagement). Prices ranges from $59 to $99 per month on a monthly plan, and from $44 to $75 per month on a yearly plan. If you are not happy with Mailshake, you can request a full refund within the first 30 days of using this platform.


AutoKlose is much like Mailshake in the sense that it allows you to send cold emails in bulk by using your own email address. This gives your messages protection from spam filters because some cold emails have a tendency to appear in the Spam folders of those who you wish to contact.

The process of sending cold emails with AutoKlose is easy. You can customize how you want to set up your email campaign by selecting a campaign name, starting date and hours when emails are sent, the days you want to search for leads, and the most important statistics that warrant tracking in your perspective.

You also get to choose your email recipients by utilizing AutoKlose’s lead builder and created targeted contact lists. There is a data cleansing tool in place where AutoKlose will identify any duplicated contact records. Also take note of AutoKlose’s lead scoring system which will separate the best leads from the rest.

What You Should Know with Regards to Spam Rules with Marketing 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. The truth is that spam emails account for 45% of all emails. 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. So, how do you ensure you remain CAN-SPAM compliant?

Don’t use misleading header information in marketing emails

A prospect has the right to know where an email is coming from. The "reply to" section should represent the person who has sent the message. Also, the routing information must be clear, including the domain name. You should give the recipient an option to email you back.

Never use deceptive subject lines

The easiest way to get people hooked is by using intriguing subject lines. Make sure the subject line represents the content of the message. Saying something untrue or misleading in the subject line, just to get a person to open the email though, could get you in trouble. So, no bait and switch with subject lines. Whatever you use in the subject line needs to accurately portray the contents of the email.

Give the subscribers an opportunity to opt-out

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires that you allow the target audience to unsubscribe anytime. They can decide they want to hear more about you or opt-out when they’ve had enough. Some businesses use small fonts to ensure the subscribers don’t see the unsubscribe button. But, since email marketing is all about customer choice, you should focus on keeping the content interesting and valuable for your recipients, rather than making it difficult for them to unsubscribe.

You should highlight the message as an ad

To make sure the subscribers aren’t deceived, the CAN-SPAM Act requires that you identify the message as an advertisement (if that's what it is). Nowadays, some marketers use inconspicuous methods to show customers the email is an advertisement. This should clearly be avoided because consumers won't want to work with you if they don't trust you. With marketing, it is always best to be honest and have high integrity. This is even more important when sending cold emails.

Honor marketing email opt-out requests

Once you receive opt-out requests, you should honor them within 10 business days. Make sure your spam filter is not stopping these requests from coming through. This is one of the most important rules with the CAN-SPAM Act, and you can face severe fines if you don't follow it. So, even though it may sting, be sure you remove people from your list if they ask to be removed. It could sting a whole lot more if you don't follow this requirement.

Know who you email and where you email to

Email marketing presents you with a great opportunity of reaching out to people, no matter where they live in the world. The product or service you are offering will go out on the global market in most cases. Knowing this, it is important to also know both who and where you are sending your marketing emails to. Actions that are legal in one country can potentially be illegal in another. If your emails are being sent to recipients in other countries, then compliance with different international email laws is a must. With the help of an email marketing platform listed above, you should develop an idea of where your leads or subscribers are based. Always keep in mind that the laws of the country, in which the subscriber lives, apply to all emails you send.

Below are some of the international email laws you should be aware of:

Store the consent of subscribers

What exactly is consent in terms of email marketing? 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.

You don’t need to use purchased email lists

You are legally allowed to buy email lists if that is the route you wish to take in obtaining subscribers. However, for every email list you buy, you must get specific consent from the people on that list for further use. This is one main reason why it is counterproductive to buy email lists. You don’t have to ask for consent, but if some people that were on your list already opted out, then reaching out to them would be illegal. An email list can do the exact opposite of what you were intending to do for yourself, which is saving time.

Watch what others do on your behalf

You can purchase email lists and defer the sending of marketing emails to another company. But, if you do this, be sure to watch what this other company will do on your behalf. At the end of the day, you are still responsible for any wrongdoing that may occur in the process. If the company is in violation of the any of the terms listed in the CAN-SPAM regulations, then you will have to answer for their misconduct. Use good judgment when setting up an email campaign, and respect the rights of your email subscribers. The Federal Trade Commission has a compliance guide on its site to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.

Offer email frequency options

If you run a smaller brand, then you may not need to implement this strategy. But larger brands would certainly benefit from adding an option for customers to adjust the frequency of email sends. Some large companies send more than one email per day to everyone on their subscriber lists. Although they may have been interested in receiving emails from the company, some subscribers may end up unsubscribing. This can easily happen when a company sends more emails than the subscriber wished to receive. Receiving an occasional interesting email is one thing. Receiving marketing emails on a daily basis might be a bit overwhelming.

Customization options significantly help your email marketing campaign and provide your recipients a stronger sense of control. The recipient can choose to receive an email either once a week or once a month, depending on their preferences. There can be other frequencies as well. This practice can save your list and your reputation. It will also keep customers informed on the most important deals and developments, without flooding their inbox with more emails than they wish to receive.

Offer Incentives

As long as they are authentic and not misleading, offering enticing incentives to potential subscribers is a great way to get their attention. Any customers that are unsure of whether they want to grant you email consent can be encouraged to do so by offering the right incentive. Many brands are known to use the following incentives;

  • First-time subscribers get an instant special offer (for example, 20% off)
  • Regularly scheduled coupons
  • The subscriber’s shipping method is upgraded
  • A helpful email series that involves a specific topic relevant to the subscriber
  • Online contest, sweepstakes or giveaway
  • Online webinar (to those who register for the event)
  • Free gift added on to a customer’s next order
  • A cheat sheet, worksheet or checklist (often provided in visual formats like PDF files)

It Is Safer to Send Transactional Marketing Emails

Most anti-spam laws that are put into effect throughout the world will guide you through the process of sending commercial email marketing messages. These laws apply to content such as newsletters, marketing announcements, or any kind of promotional campaigns your company could be sending.

However, you will be glad to know that transactional emails are exempt from these laws. This means that sending confirmations for orders and shipping, and emails that allow customers to reset their passwords are all protected and safe actions to take. These messages you send are not considered to be spam in any way because they are designed to provide the customer information on a purchase or membership that already exists.


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Sending Marketing Emails

Email marketing is a powerful tool for promoting brands and converting prospects into actual clients. When you adhere to CAN-SPAM regulations, you’ll take your business to the next level. We hope this blog post showed you some ways to ensure you are following the laws that are set in place when sending marketing emails. If you have any questions about this topic, please feel free to contact us. We would be more than happy to help you get your digital marketing figured out.