Getting Permission to Email
Getting permission to email not only makes you compliant with bulk email laws, but it also ensures that your recipients want to get the emails you send them — effectively preventing your emails from getting marked as spam. In most cases, your contacts give you permission to email them when they opt in through your forms.
Email you have permission to send
You only have permission to send content that your contacts specifically request to receive. If you send emails that do not relate to what your contacts requested, they are likely to unsubscribe or complain about your messages. If a contact wants to stop receiving your marketing emails and unsubscribes, their bulk email status will be changed to “Transactional Only,” meaning you can only send them transactional emails.
Bulk Email Status (BES)
Contacts’ bulk BES specifies whether or not you have permission to send them marketing or transactional emails. When your contacts have a bulk email status that is opted in, it means that you do have permission to email them marketing messages. However, you should only send them emails about topics they have requested to receive from you.
Here are the bulk email statuses you’ll see in your account:
Can be sent all types of email:
- Single Opt-in
- Double Opt-in
Cannot be sent any bulk email:
- Pending Review: This status is used when contacts were recently imported and have not been approved yet.
- Hard Bounce: These are addresses that can’t be delivered to due to inbox issues. For more information, you can read about bounces below.
- Unconfirmed: This status is used when a double opt-in is required, and contacts have not confirmed their email.
Note, these contacts can still receive one-off emails if they’re sent to one contact at a time.
Can only be sent non-marketing emails:
- Transactional Only: This status is due to the contact opting out of email using the “Manage Your Subscription” link. You can send these contacts non-marketing emails marked as a transactional emails, but make sure you understand the penalties for misusing transactional emails. You can also send individual emails as long as the email is not sent to anyone else at the same time.
Transactional emails allow you to send products that your contacts have purchased, even if they opted to withdraw their permission for you to send marketing emails — their bulk email status is “Transactional Only.”
There are very strict guidelines regarding what is and is not considered a transactional email. Ontraport reserves the right to review any transactional email before it is sent. In most cases, the messages are automatically approved and ready to send.
Please review the types of transactional emails and the penalties for misusing the transactional email feature below.
Types of transactional emails
- Invoices: Ontraport already sends invoices to contacts regardless of their bulk email status. However, if you have other non-marketing follow-up for orders placed through outside systems, those messages can be marked transactional.
- Paid products or subscription content: This includes content that your contacts have paid for and are expecting, even if they’ve opted out of your marketing emails (e.g., account creation notifications, shipping confirmations and password resets).
- Business notices: These are absolutely necessary or required notices for your contacts who have purchased from you.
These are NOT transactional emails
Transactional emails must not contain any marketing information or call-to-action elements. You must remove any links to opt-in or order forms and remove any marketing or sales language in the email.
- Lead follow-up: Messages that contain lead magnets, bonus or lead nurture content
- Marketing newsletters: Content intended to lead contacts to download content or encourage them to purchase a product
- Marketing offers of any kind: Product offers, upsells, cross-sells, downsells, content promotion, sales communication and offers of any kind
- Re-engagement emails: Messages that are attempting to get your contacts to interact with your message (e.g., “We haven’t heard from you in a long time. Please CLICK HERE to re-enroll in our weekly newsletter!” is not a transactional email due to its call to action.)
- Postscript marketing: Any postscripts or taglines in your message that are marketing-related (e.g., “P.S. Get 25% off your next order when you mention this email!”) Ensure that your signature block does not include a call to action. Having a link to your website is OK; having one that says, “Visit our website for more offers!” is not.
- Upcoming offers: Messages that include marketing language with a call to action (e.g., “Just wanted to let you know that our regular subscribers will receive special offers this coming month. Sign up if you want to be included!”)
While your contacts may have wanted to receive your emails when they first signed up, if they stop engaging, your emails can become unwanted. There are two practices you can adopt to stop your emails from becoming your contacts’ spam.
- Add a permission reminder to the top of all your emails that tells your contacts why they’re receiving your email and how to unsubscribe. A good permission reminder is friendly, specific and provable. For example, “You’re receiving this email at [their email address] because you requested to receive our weekly newsletter. If you don’t want to hear from us anymore, you can unsubscribe here.” Permission reminders serve two purposes:
- They remind your contacts where you got their email address, which makes them less likely to report you as spam.
- If you receive a spam complaint on your message, you can prove that you had permission to send the message, despite the fact it was marked as spam.
- You can use a list cleaning and re-engagement campaign to clear out inactive contacts from your account. If your contacts haven’t opened or clicked an email from you in four or six months, they are most likely not interested in receiving more messages from you.
- Ontraport provides a free pre-built campaign called “List Cleaning and Re-engagement” that you can download by clicking here.
Ontraport Email Standards
When you send mass emails through your Ontraport account, we require you to follow a set of standards in order to maintain our solid email sending reputation and ensure that the emails that you send get delivered to inboxes instead of getting sent to spam or blocked completely.
To ensure that the lists you import into your account are contacts who adhere to our anti-spam policies, all imports go through an approval process, and some lists are pulled for a manual review. These list reviews protect the health of the IP address used to send messages by not allowing lists that are likely to result in complaints or bounced messages. If your list is selected for manual review, you can expect:
- An email sent to your account administrator asking additional questions
- To receive a confirmation email from our email delivery team within 24 hours of receiving your request informing you of whether or not your list was approved
Once your list is approved, your contacts’ bulk email statuses are updated to “single opt-in.” Please email email@example.com if your list has been in review for 24 hours or more.
Transactional email misuse
If you send marketing information in a transactional email, Ontraport reserves the right to:
- Issue a warning
- Suspend your ability to use transactional email in your account
- Deactivate your ability to send any email from your account
- Suspend your Ontraport account entirely
Any or all of these actions can be taken upon any email that Ontraport determines to be violating our strict policy against promotional or marketing language being sent in a transactional email.
If you have any questions about whether your message qualifies as transactional, you can submit a support ticket with your proposed copy to be reviewed by our email delivery team.
When you send transactional emails, you assume all liability for any violations of spam or privacy laws such as the ACMA Spam Act, CASL, CAN-SPAM or GDPR. Violations of these laws can lead to criminal charges, civil violations and fines in the millions of dollars or Euros.
Spam score limit
You cannot save or send an email that has a spam score of 5.0 or higher. This ensures that your emails are delivered to your contacts’ inboxes instead of being sent to spam, and it protects the sending reputation of all accounts.
Complaint rate limit
Your contacts can complain in one of two ways:
- Clicking the “This is Spam” button
- Clicking the “Unsubscribe” link and then clicking “Report Abuse” at the bottom of the unsubscribe page
Complaints about your messages affect your email delivery across all of your contacts. Mailbox providers such as Gmail and Yahoo log spam complaints and, if there are too many complaints coming from your IP address, they will start sending your emails straight to the spam folder.
To protect the sending reputation of all accounts, Ontraport requires all users to maintain a complaint rate of 0.1% or below per week. Our team will reach out to you if you exceed that rate and work with you to correct it. We reserve the right to terminate accounts with high complaint rates.
Bounce rate limit
Bounce rate is the percentage of emails that were returned because they could not be delivered. Every bounced email negatively impacts your email delivery, which is why Ontraport has a weekly bounce rate limit of 7%, and we do not send emails to contacts whose BES is hard bounced. Ontraport keeps bounce-handling protocols and definitions up-to-date, which means you don’t have to worry about managing bounces manually.
Bounces come in two forms — hard and soft.
- Hard Bounces: A hard bounce is when you send an email message to an address that no longer exists or the email address has had four consecutive soft-bounces.
- Soft Bounces: A soft bounce is when an email address is valid, but the message didn’t reach the inbox because the recipient’s mailbox was full, or the message was too large. It could also mean that the recipient has a “spam protector” autoresponder set up that requires senders to respond to a verification email or that the email service provider (ESP) is temporarily down.
Note, a mailing list that draws a lot of bounces is usually old and full of invalid addresses. If your previous service did not manage your bounced contacts, you should run your contact list through a list cleaning service before importing into Ontraport.
Free email “from” addresses
Using a free email address — such as an address ending in @gmail.com — as your “from” address can create an email delivery problem because you don’t own or have any control over the domain you’re sending from, and free email services often have anti-spam policies that can block your marketing emails.
That’s why, if you add a free email address as your email “from” address, we’ll convert it to an Ontraport domain. For example, if you add the address firstname.lastname@example.org, your “from” email address will be converted to email@example.com.
If you add any variation of the email domains below (for example, @yahoo.com.br) as your email “from” address, you’ll have the choice to use Ontraport’s address or add an email with a custom domain instead:
Bulk email laws
When you send bulk emails — emails sent through automation, group actions, or manual sends to two or more contacts — you will need to adhere to CAN-SPAM, CASL and GDPR compliance laws. Ontraport provides you with many tools to stay compliant; however, we still recommend acquainting yourself with the laws and regulations regarding mass emails.
CAN-SPAM and CASL compliance
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law) are laws regulating bulk marketing emails. Below is a combined compliance checklist for both CASL and CAN-SPAM:
For bulk marketing messages you must have:
- Explicit permission to mail — no co-registrations or pre-checked opt-in boxes
- A clear “from” name and address
- A notice clearly stating if your message is an advertisement
- A subject line that accurately represents the content of your email
- An easy opt-out that is honored within seven days
- A physical address of the sender
- Proof of consent to mail in the event of an alleged violation
For a more in-depth view on the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, check out the Compliance Guide for Business on the FTC’s website. For more information on CASL see Understanding Canada’s anti-spam legislation. If you have hired someone to do email marketing for you, you are still legally responsible for their compliance with spam laws.
What Ontraport does for you
- Automatically adds an unsubscribe footer that includes your physical business address to the bottom of all bulk emails
- To edit your unsubscribe footer, follow these steps.
- Automatically updates contacts’ bulk email status to transactional-only when they unsubscribe from the “Manage Your Subscription” link
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a set of rules imposed by the European Union on all organizations worldwide that collect or process data about EU citizens. Please see Applying GDPR Strategies in Ontraport for more information.