Does CAN-SPAM Allow Appointment-Reminder Emails?

Does CAN-SPAM Allow Appointment Reminder Emails?

Every once in a while, someone asks if CAN-SPAM allows appointment reminder emails. The short answer to this question is: yes… however, they must abide by CAN-SPAM rules. While Reminder Services, Inc. cannot provide legal advice, we feel it is important to notify our customers of any laws that may affect them. The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) Act is the U.S. law that regulates commercial email, gives recipients the right to unsubscribe from emails and imposes fines–up to $16,000 for every single email in violation (yikes!). It is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

CAN-SPAM puts email content into three categories:

1. Commercial content that promotes a commercial product, service or website.
2. Transactional (or relationship) that facilitates an ongoing transaction.
3. Other content that does not fall into either of the previous two categories.

Appointment reminder emails update the customer about an ongoing transaction (i.e. the appointment). Their primary purpose is transactional and therefore they are exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.

CAN-SPAM Rules for Email Reminders:

When creating appointment reminder emails, keep in mind that:

1. The “From”, “To”, “Reply To” and routing information must be accurate and identify the business sending the email.
2. The subject line must accurately describe the content of the email.
3. They must tell recipients how to opt-out from receiving future emails.

Luckily, if you are using for your email reminders, we’ve got you covered on all three fronts. In fact, we even provide you a Secure Opt-In Portal where your customers can sign up for your all of your reminders (voice, sms, and email). Getting opt-in is by far the best way to avoid complaints and any confusion about the law.

The Hybrid Email

Adding information to an appointment-reminder email is a great way to communicate with customers. How does the CAN-SPAM Act categorize an email reminder that also contains promotional information?

According to The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business, the category of an email containing both transactional content AND commercial content is determined by what is considered to be the “primary purpose of the message”. In other words, if the transactional content (in this case, the appointment-reminder content) appears in the subject line, towards the beginning of the message, and makes up the bulk of the message, the primary purpose of the email is still an appt. reminder, even if you insert a short promotional sentence towards the end of the email. However, if you put your promotional information in the the subject line and beginning of the email, even if it contains an appointment reminder in the body of the email, it will be viewed as a commercial email by the FTC.

Can I Send Any Commercial Emails to My Customers?

Yes, you can. However, your commercial emails must comply with ALL of the following CAN-SPAM Act Requirements:

1. They may not include false or misleading header information. The “From”, “To”, “Reply To” and routing information–including the originating domain name and email address must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
2. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
3. They must identify the message as an ad.
4. They must tell recipients where you’re located.
5. They must tell recipients how to opt-out from receiving future emails.
6. You must honor opt-out/unsubscribe requests promptly.