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CAN-SPAM was created in 2003 to protect the user from receiving unwanted emails. Salesforce Marketing Cloud 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.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email Send Classifications

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 registration 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 Marketing Cloud CAN-SPAM settings, think carefully about the type of email(s) you’re sending.

Transactional emails generally do not honor unsubscribes and they do not have an unsubscribe link.  Marketing Cloud does give you the option to configure this, but you generally don’t want to honor unsubscribed for these types of emails.  Commercial emails are the opposite: They must honor unsubscribe requests, and they automatically include an unsubscribe link.

For more information on the CAN-SPAM act, visit the FTC's website

If you have any questions or concerns about how to set up your email send classifications in Marketing Cloud, contact KELL Partners.  We’ve helped over 1,000 nonprofits and educational institutions get started with Salesforce, and we can help you, too.