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Mass Email Requirements

University requirements, coupled with federal legislation, must be followed when sending messages within or outside the University.

Commercial and Transactional Messages

When you send a mass email, you have a choice between making your message transactional or commercial.

Almost all messages we send at the U are considered commercial.

What is a Commercial Email?

Messages are considered commercial when they advertise, promote, or inform recipients of a product, service, or initiative.

Messages are considered commercial when they do not qualify as transactional.

What is a Transactional Email?

Messages sent by University units are considered transactional when they meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Messages sent as official communications (e.g., legally required training or notifications, Timely Warnings from UMPD, class cancellations, building closure).
  • Messages sent to confirm a transaction (e.g., Here is your receipt, Thanks for signing up, Your account has been created).
  • Messages sent as an update to a transaction (e.g., The event you registered for has been relocated).
  • Messages sent as an event confirmation to notify attendees of parking, venue info, etc.
  • Non-marketing messages sent to a list created for a class, members of a student organization, or residents of a residence hall.
  • Non-marketing messages sent to any combination of students, faculty, or staff members within their own college, department, or unit.
  • Messages where your only recipients are listservs or Google groups. The unsubscribes will be handled by the delivering system.

Required Message Content

Commercial and transactional email messages must include all of the following to be in compliance with federal CAN-SPAM regulations and University branding:

  • Clear, non-deceptive "from" field using the name of the person or University unit sending the message and a email address.
  • Non-deceptive subject line.
  • Wordmark graphic at the top or prominently placed within an HTML message.
  • “University of Minnesota” clearly identified in plain text messages and in the text-only portion that accompanies an HTML message.

In the message footer:

  • The audience the message was sent to and the name and physical mailing address of the sending unit (e.g., "This message was sent to weekly newsletter subscribers by the Office of the President at the University of Minnesota, 202 Morrill Hall, 100 Church Street, Minneapolis, MN 55455.").
    • Do not use the %%emailaddr%% code snippet in your messages to show the recipient’s email address.
  • For commercial only—Opt-out or unsubscribe link
    • If possible, state specifically what messages they will unsubscribe from (e.g., “unsubscribe from the Communication Blog”).
  • Transactional messages should never have an unsubscribe link and should not use SMC Publication Lists.
  • A link to the University's mass email privacy statement at

mass email requirements image describing requirements


University units sending commercial messages must be aware of and adhere to the federal CAN-SPAM Act.

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  • Tell recipients where you’re located.
  • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  • Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  • If you hire a third party email vendor, monitor what they are doing on your behalf.

Unacceptable Messaging

Unacceptable use of mass email includes:

  • Messages sent to any internal ALL list audience or the AEL list for the purpose of marketing or advertising of programs, majors, classes, research opportunities, calls for proposals, products, or events offered or sponsored by individual units. Units should use other methods of communication for these purposes, such as Brief, MyU, the Events Calendar, or established email newsletters.
  • Messages that are not in line with the mission of the University.
  • Messages that are personal in nature.
  • Solicitations for contributions, charities, or participation in personal activities not related to University purposes or not sponsored by the University.
  • Solicitations for non-University businesses operated by University faculty or staff.
  • Messages that target audiences that might appear discriminatory or may appear to infringe on privacy.
  • Offensive material.
  • Attachments are not allowed. Use a link to a website or a Google doc instead.
  • Messages sent to University email addresses must be consistent with existing University policies (see Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources).

Branding in Mass Email

Many of the same branding rules used for web and print also apply to mass email.

U of M mass email must:

  • Include the University Wordmark at the top of a message
  • Use the Block M or Wordmark only once in the message
  • Use a Wordmark that is a minimum of 180 pixels wide

Illustration of a 180 pixel wide wordmark.

The mass email templates include a Block M and Wordmark combination that has has been optimized for email.

Branded templates for Marketing Cloud can be found in “Content > SHARED > Shared Content > UREL > Branded Template”.

Branded templates can also be downloaded from the Mass Email Templatespage.


The standard branded templates feature the University wordmark in a maroon header with a gold bar for unit identification as seen in this Department of English message heading.

Department of English email header.

An approved alternative to the standard branded design includes the unit wordmark next to the University wordmark in the header, as seen in this Carlson School heading.

Carlson School email header.

The Mass Email Template page offers a downloadable short version of the header that can be coupled with a larger unit heading, as seen in the example from the Veterinary Medical Center below.

Veterinary Medicine email header.

When using an image for your unit name, be sure to keep that image separate from the University’s wordmark header image; they should be two separate images.




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