University of Minnesota
University Relations
Our Brand: How to Convey It

Our Brand: How to Convey It.


Mass Email Guidelines and Requirements

Note: Mass email tools and processes will be changing in 2014-15. Requirements and guidelines for use of these communications tools can be found on this website. More information about these changes is posted on the Mass Email Community website.

About mass email

Mass email is a message sent to multiple recipients, not as part of a normal business functional communication. Alumni newsletters, large event invitations, and solicitations are common examples of mass email. If you'd like to send a mass email, contact your unit's communications staff. If you have questions about whether your message is mass email, contact

Lyris ListManager (Lyris) is being replaced with ExactTarget for external messages and Google Groups, Listserv, and MailChimp for internal messages. Find updates about this transition on the Exact Target service transition page.

See the Mass Email Download page for the responsive email template download as well as usage and coding tips.

Mass email tools

  • ExactTarget is the University’s approved mass email system and is recommended for use with messages sent to recipients outside the University.
  • Google Groups, Listserv, or MailChimp are approved alternative options and are recommended for messages sent within the University.

Personal or unit Gmail accounts should not be used to send mass email. MailChimp is not approved for messages to external audiences and is not centrally supported. The Office of the General Council must approve the use of any other mass email tool used for conducting University business.

Mass email requirements


Messages sent using ExactTarget should use the U of M branded templates available within ExactTarget. Messages sent with Lyris or MailChimp should use the University's responsive mass email template. Messages sent using Google Groups or Listserv cannot include HTML, but units are able and encouraged to use a wordmark graphic to brand their messages. Download this 250 pixel wide wordmark graphic and place it prominently within the message.

Internal Mass Email

Large-scale, internal mass email (e.g., to all faculty systemwide) sent using an approved email tool must include in the footer 1) the role or unit of the sender and 2) the audience, in standard form: "This message was sent by <role/unit> to <audience>."

Example: "This message was sent by the Senior Vice President and Provost to all Twin Cities students, faculty, and staff."

Required elements for audiences

  • Wordmark 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
  • Name of the sending unit clearly identified (e.g., in the "UNIT NAME" section of the email template, in the “from” field, in the subject line)
  • A link to the University's mass email privacy statement at
    Note: If using a system other than Lyris or ExactTarget to send mass email, do not use this statement as it will be incorrect. Work with the Office of the General Council to develop an accurate statement for the email system you’re using.

External Mass Email

CAN-SPAM—University units sending mass email messages to people outside the University ( email addresses) must 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.

Alumni and Donor Lists—Messages sent to audiences defined using the University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF) Donor Management System (DMS) data must:

  • be sent with ExactTarget or Lyris using segments created by UMF,
  • use a segment not older than ten business days, and
  • use UMF's opt-out URL format; see Opt-out/Remove Me Links in Mailings on the Mass Email Community Website.

Fundraising—Any and all fundraising campaigns for the University conducted using mass email must work with the UMF and follow the requirements set forth in the Gift Solicitation and Acceptance policy.

Surveys—Mass email surveys may be sent to alumni or donor audiences using email addresses from the DMS only with the foundation’s prior approval.

Required elements for audiences—Messages sent to (external) email addresses must include all of the required elements for audiences in addition to the following:

  • Opt-out or unsubscribe link, or method to opt-out or unsubscribe, except for messages that are primarily transactional (e.g., "We've received your order.")
  • Name and physical mailing address of the sending unit
  • Clear, non-deceptive "from" field using a email address
  • Non-deceptive subject line


Mass email sent by University units must be accessible to all message recipients. When creating an HTML mass email message, follow University guidelines, refer to the Accessibility of Information Technology policy, and contact Disability Services at if you have questions.

Use the following guidelines to ensure your messages meet accessibility requirements.

  • Use heading tags, rather than simply changing the font style, size, weight, and other attributes.
  • Add alternative text for images that convey meaning or represent branding logos and other marks.
  • Hide decorative images using an empty alt attribute – alt=””.
  • Links should be clear and able to stand alone. Avoid links such as “click here,” “read full article,” more information” and so on.
  • Do not rely on color alone to convey information.
  • Be sure that the contrast between text and the background is significantly high.
  • Use relative (% and em), rather than absolute (px and pt), font sizing; allowing recipients to adjust text size to meet their needs/preferences.


General Guidelines

Well-managed use of mass email is critical to maintaining recipients’ perceptions of the validity and effectiveness of electronic communications.

  • Before automatically sending mass email, consider alternatives such as Brief, the Undergraduate or Graduate & Professional Student Update, existing Listservs, or Google Groups.
  • Keep messages short; link to more content on a web page.
  • Do not include or attach personal, confidential, or sensitive information.
  • Follow all University mass email requirements.

Email Templates

ExactTarget Template—The University’s ExactTarget template contains:

  • A standard University of Minnesota graphic header that meets brand requirements
  • Preheader text section. (For information about preheader text, see A practical guide for preheaders from Campaign Monitor.)
  • Unit header section
  • Up to 15 main content sections. Available content items include subhead, a set of links, a story, and more
  • Up to 5 footer sections
  • Standard footer with copyright, address, opt-out link, and privacy policy link

Required when sending to email addresses:

  • Opt-out or unsubscribe link, or method to opt-out or unsubscribe, except for messages that are primarily transactional (e.g., "We've received your order.")
  • Name and physical mailing address of the sending unit
  • Clear, non-deceptive "from" field using a email address
  • Non-deceptive subject line.


Responsive Email Template—The responsive email template has been tested for use on all major email clients, including mobile email clients, and provides consistent rendering as is. The downloadable version contains code for:

  • Preheader text (For information about preheader text, see A practical guide for preheaders from Campaign Monitor.)
  • A standard University of Minnesota graphic header that meets brand requirements (the template download includes a graphic header for each campus)
  • A section for a unit, project, or other pertinent name/heading (insert custom text by replacing the “UNIT NAME” in the code)
  • A paragraph
  • A primary text heading
  • A secondary text heading
  • A link
  • Footer text area

Example of responsive email template on a mobile device

Example mass email.

Click to see larger image


The template also contains comments (denoted by <!-- comment text --> and /*comment text*/) that will explain the purpose and use of the different sections. Note: These comments must be removed before sending the email or the email will not display in some email clients.

All of the tables in the responsive template are single column, nested inside one another. It is difficult to use multiple columns in a responsive email, and we advise against that at this time (fall 2014).

Download the responsive template and find usage and coding tips.

More information

If you have questions about the mass email guidelines or requirements, or if you need advice on how to structure your messages, please contact

Download the responsive email template on the Mass Email Template page. Updates about the move from Lyris to ExactTarget are available on the the Mass Email Community Website.

Email and advertising

The sale of advertising space in University electronic communications to non-University entities implies an endorsement of a service or product. To preserve its academic independence and integrity, the University of Minnesota expressly chooses not to allow advertising on University websites, in email, on digital signage, and in other electronic publications. Advertising in any form, including banner advertising, in University of Minnesota electronic communications is prohibited.