Do I need an opt-out in my transactional message?

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Answer: With the advent of CAN-SPAM Act several years ago, the industry defined a transactional message as exempt from the provisions of the act. We’ve operated the past few years under the mindset that as long as we followed the definition of a transactional message, we didn’t have to worry about deliverability for this message group.

Now, however, we’ve moved to a world in which the most important factor in moving the deliverability needle is your reputation. Your reputation determines your placement, throttle rate and even acceptance at ISPs. Your recipients, in a sense, vote on your messages with the actions they take. The single most damaging factor to your reputation is a customer who reports your messages as spam. ISPs in general will always deliver messages that are opened, clicked and have low complaint rates.

Let’s apply those assumptions to the world of transactional messaging. A transactional message should contain content that a user expects or has requested. This should be the most targeted communication you ever send to one of your customers. The standard practice today is to not include opt-out links in a transactional message. I’d like to recommend revisiting this practice. A message without an opt-out link gives a customer only one choice if they no longer wish to receive these types of communications, and that is clicking the “Report Spam” button. Giving a customer a chance to opt out on their own terms gives you the opportunity to retain some of that business rather than losing it altogether.

Think long-term with your communications and about building customer trust. Give your recipients options around the types of communications they receive. If someone wants to go, set them free; maybe they’ll return.

Kevin Senne is global director of deliverability and product services, e-marketing solutions at Premiere Global Services (, a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.

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