We are looking to develop transactional emails to send immediately when someone fills out one of our web forms. It would be a web form submission confirmation email. It would be operational.
In operational emails such as this can you use that opportunity to also provide them with links to resources on our website to nurture them along or promote products to them in that email? Is that legal to do?
IMHO, this is a grey area and I am pretty sure that 1/ the various laws do not really cover this and 2/ you would get as many opinions as the number of lawyers you would ask the question to...
You can of course add additional links is this operational email, provided that the primary focus of the email is to deliver the "fills out form received" message. at the end of the day, it's all a question of nuance and subtlety So the way your email is being designed, the wording and the weight of the various parts of the email will matter.
Greg summed it up perfectly. There's obviously lots of different pieces of legislation to consider here, but if you're curious the FTC has a good summary on staying complaint for CAN-SPAM:
It’s common for email sent by businesses to mix commercial content and transactional or relationship content. When an email contains both kinds of content, the primary purpose of the message is the deciding factor. Here’s how to make that determination: If a recipient reasonably interpreting the subject line would likely conclude that the message contains an advertisement or promotion for a commercial product or service or if the message’s transactional or relationship content does not appear mainly at the beginning of the message, the primary purpose of the message is commercial. So, when a message contains both kinds of content – commercial and transactional or relationship – if the subject line would lead the recipient to think it’s a commercial message, it’s a commercial message for CAN-SPAM purposes. Similarly, if the bulk of the transactional or relationship part of the message doesn’t appear at the beginning, it’s a commercial message under the CAN-SPAM Act.
So it's key to make clear in the subject line why they are receiving the email ("Your xyz.com Request", etc), and to ensure that the transactional part of the email comes first -- if you want to include some additional resources or information after the transactional message, you are allowed to do so.