The Office of Communications has instituted the following standards for University messaging via email. If you are planning to send a message to more than 500 recipients, please use the mass email checklist to schedule it.
The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) act was passed into law in January 2004 to protect individuals from unwanted email messages. It is crucial that any university emails of a commercial nature comply with the law, but non-commercial projects should also take advantage of the best practices set forth in the regulation.
What is a commercial email?
A commercial e-mail is “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an internet website operated for a commercial purpose.)” Examples include emails that advertise ticketed university events, emails sent to prospective students, emails sent by an external vendor to advertise university services or events, emails sent containing a link to a webpage that promotes a service or product. Please contact University Web Services if you are unsure of the commercial nature of your wmail.
What are the requirements for commercial emails?
The basic requirements of CAN-SPAM are relatively easy to follow and good best prctices for any email:
Valid E-mail Information
Provide a descriptive subject line. The from address of the email should be from a utdallas email address that is not an acronym or misleading.
All commercial emails should have an unsubscribe link. The link should be prominently displayed in the body of the email. This unsubscribe should be processed within 10 days.
Identify the message as an ad.
The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
Tell recipients where you’re located.
For most emails the main address of the university in the footer of the email can easily fulfill this requirement:
The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Road, Richardson, Texas 75080-3021
The Federal Trade Commission provides additional information on the CAN-SPAM Act at: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business
Keep it short, and keep it on point. The average email gets fleeting attention. If you have more to say, link to webpages, including registration pages for events, that offer details.
For additional tips, see the guidelines on how to write a mass email.
Logos and Colors
Resist the temptation to invent a new logo for your organization, department or event. New graphics can make your message appear unrelated to the rest of the University, and your otherwise well-meaning message end up looking like junk mail.
Mass emails must follow UT Dallas’ logo and visual identity guidelines. Straying from these standards weakens the branding of the University at large and your organization in particular.
Email list servers craft individualized emails for each recipient and help us avoid the “junk mail” folder. Your message has its best chance of getting past spam filters if you use one of the University’s email list servers. University Web Services can advise which is best suited for your audience. Use the checklist to get started, even if you don’t have all the material pulled together for it yet.
Quality and Usability
Too often, emails and newsletters that organizations spent hours designing end up malfunctioning when they finally arrive on the user’s screen. Most email providers block images by default. What works on a PC’s Outlook may be unreadable on an Android phone or iPad.
If you want to use graphics to liven up emails or newsletters, it’s imperative that they be tested rigorously across multiple platforms and screen sizes before sending.
University Web Services can answer questions about your mass email and make sure it functions in email programs as envisioned. Plan a specific day for your email to appear in users’ inboxes and contact University Web Services (or submit a checklist to engage with us) at least two weeks in advance. Experts can test your email for functionality and set a time for it to be sent to your constituents.
If you are hosting an event, you may need supporting emails in addition to the invitation such as a save-the-date email, which it typically reserved for major events and sent out at least two months in advance. You may also need a registration page and a follow-up email acknowledging the recipient’s response. We have provided examples of these supportive elements and urge you to plan ahead to get the best results.