Placing anything that can be construed as advertising or marketing in a transactional email or an email address confirmation email (which is also transactional) can get you into legal hot water. Transactional email is a single email that is sent by an email sender to one single primary email address, for the purpose of providing specific, unique information to the holder of that email address, and which content is not applicable to anyone else.

Email address confirmation messages are those messages that email senders who use best practices send to people who sign up for their mailing lists. The purpose of the email confirmation message is to confirm that the person actually wants to be on, and consents to being put on, your mailing list before they get added to the mailing list.

The problem is, some email senders see confirmation and other transactional messages as a place to slip in a little advertising.

This is a bad practice.

Why Putting Advertising in Transactional and Confirmation Messages is Bad

First of all, confirmation emails are used to confirm that the recipient really wants to receive your messages. Slipping your {marketing | sales | corporate} message in there before you have confirmed that they really want it is like slopping ketchup on your customer’s eggs before confirming that they really want it. In both cases it will lose you more customers than it can possibly convert. The same goes for other types of transactional messages.

But more importantly, in the case of confirmation messages it changes the nature of your email from truly being confirmed (double) opt-in, which is, again, best practices, to really being “take one bite at the apple and they can confirm opt-in for more.” A much shorter way to say that is “single opt-in.”

Also, it makes you look like a spammer, because actual spammers do this. In fact, they use the confirmation email as a vehicle to carry their spam message. And that is another reason to not do it. In fact it not only makes you look like a spammer, but it can make your email look like spam. And not just to the recipients, but to the ISPs and spam filters, who will put it in the spam folder.

Advertising in Transactional and Email Confirmation Messages Can be Against the Law!

Placing even minimal advertising in your email confirmation message or other transactional email runs the risk of putting you in violation of the law! It changes the nature of your email message from ‘transactional’ to ‘bulk’. In fact, in 2021 a German court held that a newsletter confirmation email that contained not just the confirmation request, but also the company’s logo, and the phrases “Welcome to {our newsletter}” and “Do you have any questions about the newsletter? Contact us via: info@{newsletter domain}.com” constituted advertising and so transmuted the email into illegal advertising, because they didn’t yet have the user’s permission to market to them. (You can read the original decision here, and if you don’t read German you can have it translated by plugging that link into

So remember to keep your transactional and confirmation messages separate from your marketing or other messages, and resist the temptation to “slip one in there.” If they really want your messages they will confirm and get on your mailing list.

And if they don’t really want your messages, they sure aren’t going to be converted by a cheap shot like trying to sell them before they even agree to hearing what you have to say. Think about it this way: have you ever purchased something from a telemarketer who left their sales pitch in your voicemail?

Placing Advertising in Email Confirmation Messages Will Get You in Trouble

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One response

  1. Amen and Amen again!!!! I really dislike it when this happens to me. Another thing I really don’t like…. being upsold on a confirmation order email. Yeah, I bought from you. Can’t you just say THANK YOU and call it good? Must you try to sell me more before I’ve even had a chance to download and read what you’ve already sold me? Big red flag that someone does not really care about me but only my debit card. Know what I mean?

    With smiles,

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