The CAN-SPAM act of 2003 went into effect on January 1, 2004, establishing the United States’ first national standards for the sending of email. It is a federal law that establishes requirements for all commercial email and gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them. It also spells out tough penalties for violations. (Up to $41,484 per violation, based on current FTC information.)

This article describes how Engage can help you remain complaint with the CAN-SPAM Act. Ultimately, you are responsible for your company’s CAN-SPAM compliance, but these features of Engage can make the job much easier and protect both your relationship with customers and your legal reputation.


What does CAN-SPAM require?

The CAN-SPAM Act imposes much stricter requirements on Commercial/Marketing email than on Transactional email. But for a utility, the line between those can be confusing. Complying with the requirements of CAN-SPAM not only protects you from litigation related to the CAN-SPAM act, but also demonstrates your commitment to providing relevant messaging to your customers.

The CAN-SPAM act requires that Commercial/Marketing emails meet the following criteria:

  • Accurately identify the sender in the from line of the email.
  • Use a subject line that represents the true content of the email.
  • Include your physical mailing address.
  • Provide a clear method to opt out. Do not force a subscriber to log in or visit more than a single page to unsubscribe.
  • Honor opt-outs promptly. Process any unsubscribe request within 10 days, and ensure the unsubscribe mechanism is operational for at least 30 days after the mailing.
  • Identify commercial messages as an advertisement, unless you have express opt-in consent from the subscriber.

For more information on the differences between Marketing and Transactional email in Engage, click here.

Preference Center

Per Questline policy, every Commercial or Marketing email sent from Engage must contain a link to unsubscribe or manage preferences. When utilizing the default preference center provided to all Engage clients, your customers have options to opt out globally or to categories of communications you may have created using the Subscriptions feature. Opt out requests using this method are processed instantly and the subscriber will be excluded from any new send globally or associated with a relevant Subscription type.

Manual Processing

If a subscriber requests to be unsubscribed through phone, direct mail, or other communication channel, you are required by CAN-SPAM to process this request in a timely fashion. You can unsubscribe a customer by accessing their details under the Subscribers area of the application and adjusting their opt-in status globally for marketing email or for an individual Subscription type.

ISP Feedback Loops

A feedback loop is a mechanism by which an Internet Service Provider (ISP) forwards spam complaints and opt outs from its customers to the sender of the message that triggered the complaint. When ISPs use a feedback loop to forward complaints to Questline, the subscriber who complained is automatically opted out at the global level for email.

Questline currently supports feedback loops from the following ISPs:

  • AOL
  • Bluetie/Excite
  • Comcast
  • Cox
  • Earthlink
  • Fastmail
  • Hotmail
  • OpenSRS/Tucows
  • Outblaze
  • Rackspace
  • RoadRunner/Time Warner Cable
  • Synacor
  • Terra
  • United Online/Juno/Netzero
  • Yahoo!
  • Zoho.com

Contacting Questline

In rare instances, a subscriber may contact Questline as the infrastructure provider for your utility’s email sending and request to be unsubscribed. Questline staff manually processes these requests and opts the customer out at the appropriate level, depending on the request.

For additional information, refer to this Questline CAN-SPAM Primer for Utilities: