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

Our Brand: How to Convey It.


Mass Email Requirements and Guidelines

Note: Mass email tools and processes are changing during 2015. Communication requirements and guidelines for use of these tools will be updated throughout the year.

About mass email

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

The University is working to better define mass email requirements, guidelines, tool use, and list sources. The information on this site will be updated as information becomes available.

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

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

Internal mass email guidelines and requirements


For the purposes of these guidelines and requirements, internal mass email—regardless of the tool or system used to send the message—is any single or group of identical unsolicited mailings sent to a list of individuals within the University of Minnesota system.

These guidelines and requirements do not apply to messages that are sent to a group of email addresses:

  • created for a class;
  • including only members of a student organization or residents of a residence hall;
  • made up of all or any combination of students, faculty, or staff members within their own college, department, or unit;
  • that a unit has a relationship with (i.e., a college's student body or students in a specific major, people who have purchased a ticket for a performance); or
  • where all subscribers signed up voluntarily to receive information.

Purpose Statement

The Office of the President requires University units to use campus communications resources effectively and efficiently. These guidelines and requirements

  • instruct users on appropriate uses of internal mass email,
  • provide best practices and content standards,
  • provide advice for choosing alternative communication methods, and
  • outline required content for internal messages.

When to Choose Mass Email

Internal mass email is appropriate for:

  • Messages that are time sensitive.
  • Messages that serve as a digest or short newsletter that directs people to other locations for more information.
  • Administrative system- or campus-wide messages that apply to all or a majority of the recipients.

Inappropriate use of internal mass email includes, but is not limited to:

  • Messages that are not in line with the mission of the University.
  • Messages that are personal in nature.
  • Messages that are commercial in nature with the exception of those messages that are in support of University business and are approved by the stipulations defined in these guidelines and requirements.

Best Practices and Content Standards

Sending Internal Mass Email

To promote operational efficiency and network security, the following guidelines govern internal mass email:

  • A mass email message should be brief, self-explanatory, clear, and concise.
  • Avoid sending frequent or repeated messages. Use other communication methods noted in “Alternative Communication Choices” below.
  • Send collaborative messages with others at the University to avoid redundancy and reduce the number of messages sent.
  • Attachments are not allowed in mass email. A link to a website or a Google doc is recommended.
  • Messages sent to University email addresses must be consistent with existing University policies (see Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources).

Marketing or Advertising and Internal Mass Email

Unacceptable use of internal mass email includes:

  • Marketing or advertising of programs, majors, classes, products, or events offered or sponsored by the University. Units should use other methods of communication for these purposes, such as Brief, MyU, the Events Calendar, email newsletters, or established email lists. See “Building an Internal Mass Email List” below. Please note: This requirement does not apply in all cases. See guideline application rules above.
  • 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 be infringement on privacy.
  • Offensive material.

Building an Internal Mass Email List

Units may, through electronic communications other than mass email, offer students, faculty, and staff a way to sign up to receive marketing messages from their unit. For example, a unit may include information about a program or an event in Brief or MyU coupled with a link to subscribe to email related to future programs or events. Units must adhere to federal CAN-SPAM law for any messages sent to an opt-in email list.

Required Message Content

Messages sent to internal ( email addresses must include all of the following:

  • 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 (recommended) or the sending individual in the "from" field.

In the message footer:

  • Name of the sending unit and the audience the message was sent to (e.g., "This message was sent by the Office of the President to all Twin Cities faculty and staff.").

Alternative Communication Choices

Before deciding on mass email as the choice for any communication, units are strongly encouraged to use:

  • Brief (systemwide audience with campus sections).
  • My U (multiple levels of audience targeting; available late spring 2015).
  • Events Calendar(s) (by campus with some calendars offering filters for targeting specific interests).
  • Google Groups (opt-in based on interest or affiliation).
  • Websites (public).
  • College, campus, and departmental publications, such as internal newsletters—examples of which can be found in Alternatives to Mass Email (see the right column). Contact your parent unit’s communications professional for additional options.

External mass email guidelines and requirements


For the purposes of these guidelines and requirements, external mass email—regardless of the tool or system used to send the message—is any single or group of identical unsolicited mailings sent to a list of individuals outside the University of Minnesota system ( email addresses).

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 Salesforce Marketing Cloud (was 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.


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 (PDF).


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


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.

Required Message Content

Messages sent to external (, or combined internal and external email addresses, must include all of the following:

  • Clear, non-deceptive "from" field using a email address.
  • Non-deceptive subject line.
  • 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.

In the message footer:

  • Who the message was sent to and the name and physical mailing address of the sending unit (e.g., "This message was sent to by the Office of the President at the University of Minnesota, 202 Morrill Hall, 100 Church Street, Minneapolis, MN 55455.").
  • 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.").
  • A link to the University's mass email privacy statement at
    Note: If using a system other than Lyris or Salesforce Marketing Cloud 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.


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.

Paid advertising in mass email

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 in University of Minnesota electronic communications is prohibited.

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 Salesforce Marketing Cloud are available on the the Mass Email Community Website.