Are "invite your friends" emails can-spam compliant?


I've added an "invite your friends" feature to my site but reading through can-spam, it seems as if invites should be classified as unsolicited emails.

But invites must be can-spam compliant because everybody (facebook, google, microsoft, yahoo) uses them...does anybody have a good explanation for this ?

Note I'm following all can-spam rules (unsubscribe link, etc)

Thanks in advance.

Marketing Email Spam

asked Nov 14 '10 at 21:47
Sherif Buzz
462 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Are you looking for clarification on being compliant, or how to draft 'invite your friends' emails? – Mfg 13 years ago
  • @mfg clarification on being compliant. – Sherif Buzz 13 years ago

3 Answers


The can-spam laws mainly state that you have to disclose that an advertisement is an advertisement if it is sent by email, and that you give your recipients an option to unsubscribe or opt out from your marketing list.

The bigger issue is getting blacklisted for your mail server, domain, etc.
This is why you see services such as constant contact, awebber, mailchimp and so on require that you have mailing lists that actually want to receive your emails.

The good news is that with an invite your friends feature you should not have tons of emails going out where it would be conceived as spam. I would also look into programming the invite your friends feature through a FB plugin where you could post something to your member's friends wall.

The facebook API has changed a lot since I last looked at it, so i dont know if this is possible. I know you can at a minimum have it update the subscribers wall.

Think of some more creative ways to do invites, and take a look at how sites like facebook and linkedin do it for guidance.

answered Nov 14 '10 at 23:38
2,079 points


Sometimes when your user really like what you have to offer they'd this on their own, but it certainly won't hurt to nudge them gently in that direction.

Best of luck!

answered Nov 17 '10 at 15:04
1,698 points


Don't forget most 'invite your friends' emails are either a) originated from the users email account (and thus not unsolicited, and open to the general exception that if a user is in the receivers contact book it will pass), or b) contains the name and/or email address of a contact from the receiver's address book (and likely won't trigger a spam filtering).

I would recommend reading some of A Smart Bear's archives on SPAM for reference, and to really get your fill of what it is about SPAM people hate. On the flip side, for your own reference here is the FTC's compliance guide.

answered Nov 18 '10 at 01:03
246 points

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