January 27, 2004, 12:00 AM

Opt-in e-mail marketers already comply with CAN-Spam - but not all of it

95% of permission-based e-mails audited by EmailLabs had the required unsubscribe option, but only 56% had the required postal mailing address.

The permission-based e-mail marketing programs of most legitimate online marketers already exceed most requirements of the new federal CAN-Spam law, but many marketers remain confused over some aspects of the law, according to a benchmark audit by e-mail technology provider EmailLabs. The audit, conducted on more than 100 opt-in e-mail messages from online retailers, media and publishing companies from the first two weeks of January, found that while more than 95% had an unsubscribe mechanism as required by the new law, only 56% were in compliance with another requirement: that of including a postal mailing address.

“The bare majority complying with the postal address requirement appears to indicate that many legitimate e-mail marketers are confused by CAN-Spam, and don’t understand the requirement and/or simply haven’t gotten around to it,” says Loren McDonald, vice president of marketing at EmailLabs. “Most major permission-based marketers already adhere to best practices, but many are clearly confused by the nuances and gray areas of the law.”

None of the e-mails evaluated appeared to contain misleading subject lines or other fraudulent practices used by spammers. Of a variety of unsubscribe mechanisms, 87% offered a link to unsubscribe, 22% an e-mail replay and 11% notification by phone or mail. Though not mandated by the new law, 54% of the e-mails reviewed enabled recipients to update their preferences, 40% both explained why the e-mail was received and supplied complete contact information including address, phone and e-mail address; and 40% referenced a privacy policy.

Not surprisingly, unsolicited commercial e-mail falls far below the level of compliance already in place among permission-based-email marketers. E-mail security services provider MX Logic Inc. found that of a random sample of more than 1,000 non-permission-based commercial e-mails reviewed, only three met the basic requirements of the law.

While industry observes say mass spammers aren’t likely to be deterred by the new law--at least not until they’re caught--uniform national regulations are now on the table in an arena previously governed only by generally accepted best practices and by a patchwork of state laws. For legitimate e-mail marketers, ensuring full compliance with the new national law may simply be the cost of running an effective program as e-mail marketing matures.

“E-mail marketing is coming out of its adolescence,” says MX Logic’s Sheila O’Neill, director of public affairs. “People used to think of it as just a cheap, easy way to pitch products. But now, it’s a commercial-grade medium. While rogue spammers may not be stopped by CAN-Spam, it’s a starting point. Legislation, technology solutions, user education and industry cooperation are the only ways you’re going to stop spam.”

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

From IR Blogs

FPO

Jochen Moll / B2B E-Commerce

Grasping the global dimensions of B2B e-commerce

To successfully sell online to businesses around the world suppliers must get a lot of ...

FPO

Bart Schaefer / E-Commerce

Applying back-to-school lessons to holiday e-mail strategy

It’s time to begin holiday “drip” campaigns that send a sequence of messages to consumers, ...

Advertisement