CAN-SPAM was created in 2003 to protect the user from receiving unwanted emails. SFMC allows for two types of what it calls "Send Classifications" for CAN-SPAM: transactional and commercial. When creating a send classification in email studio under the Admin tab, don’t just gloss over the CAN-SPAM Classification selection. It’s important! Why? Well, not only is it the law - but if a send is incorrectly labeled, it can harm your deliverability and sender reputation (two things you definitely don’t want).
Before we go into the pros and cons of each, let's define each email type. The name "transactional" can be misleading as it sounds like something you'd select when trying to get the subscriber to engage in a transaction (i.e., buy something). Actually, at their most basic level, transactional emails mean "receipt-based emails." Typically these emails are used as purchase confirmations that your online order or donation has been processed.
All other emails, on the other hand, are considered commercial emails. Commercial emails can include newsletters, hard or soft sells, promotions, surveys and more.
What do these email types mean for your company or cause? When making a “send classification” selection in your SFMC’s CAN-SPAM settings, think carefully about the type of email(s) you’re sending. Transactional emails do not honor unsubscribes and they do not have an unsubscribe link. Commercial emails are the opposite: They honor those who have unsubscribed from your list, and they automatically include an unsubscribe link. If you have a transactional email, you will need to remove the unsubscribe link from the email.
The bottom line is, if you have any questions about whether your email is commercial or transactional, do some research (like calling us!) before making a selection. Your future emails will thank you.
Visit spamlaws.com and click on US → Federal → Enacted→ CAN-SPAM act for a full copy of the applicable law.