Email Marketing Compliance Tips for California Companies

October 18, 2021

Federal Email Marketing Compliance: The CAN-SPAM Act

At the federal level, the CAN-SPAM Act regulates all commercial emails (including, but not limited to, B2B and B2C emails). This Act requires senders to clearly and accurately identify themselves and the purpose behind the email, explain how recipients can opt-out, and promptly honor any opt-out requests, amongst other things. You can read more about the CAN-SPAM Act here.

California Privacy Laws and Email Marketing

Email marketing compliance is crucial for California companies covered by the CCPA and CPRA (once it comes into effect), since an email address is considered to be personal information. But even for companies who don’t meet the thresholds to be subject to the CCPA (or other state privacy laws), there are benefits to embedding user control over their privacy into your email marketing. These include:

  • Your email subscribers likely expect to be able to easily manage their privacy preferences and personal information. Allowing this promotes trust, which you can turn into a competitive advantage for your business.
  • It is easier to manage and maintain your reputation.
  • You are more likely to be compliant in more jurisdictions, making it easier to grow your brand outside of California and even the US.


Quick Tips for Email Marketing Compliance and Achieving Best Practices

1. Know and Understand How Your Business Collects and Handles Email Addresses (and other personal information).

Knowing and understanding how your organization collects, uses, stores, transmits, and disposes of any personal information, including email addresses, is critical to privacy compliance in California and globally. Once you know and understand your data flows, it’s important that you put processes and procedures in place that:

  • Safeguard any email addresses you collect from unauthorized access, and
  • Allow for secure disposal of personal information in circumstances where California residents invoke their right to deletion.

2. Make it Very Easy For Subscribers to Manage Their Privacy Preferences.

With the enactment of the bill banning dark patterns in California, the state’s consumers are getting used to it being very easy to manage their privacy preferences when engaging with a business online. This expectation, coupled with the federal requirement for businesses to explain how email recipients can opt-out, have resulted in streamlined subscription management being widely considered best practice. It’s usually advisable to make it possible for email recipients to manage their subscription preferences within 2-3 clicks – and don’t require them to create an account or log into their account to unsubscribe either.

3. Collect Email Addresses Organically – Don’t Buy Lists.

While the CCPA and CAN-SPAM don’t specifically prohibit companies from purchasing email lists and sending mass marketing emails to the recipients, doing so isn’t considered a best practice. The practice of mass marketing via email is specifically prohibited by the GDPR, and is problematic under Canada’s Anti-Spam Law. Compliance issues aside, consumers hate spam. Buying or renting email addresses, or scraping websites, social media platforms, or similar, and then cold emailing the list will likely result in underperforming email marketing campaigns and may result in damage to your business’ reputation.

Companies can easily grow their email marketing lists using common tactics – like creating valuable content for subscribers or making discounts or other benefits accessible to consumers who elect to provide an email address. These email subscribers are more likely to engage with your content, which makes it more likely you will generate an ROI on your email marketing efforts.


For assistance navigating email marketing compliance, get in touch. We’re here to help!


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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