• United States

Responsible e-mail marketing and receiving

Jul 17, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalwareMessaging Apps

* Association for Interactive Marketing pushes for responsible e-mailing

One of the most potentially damaging aspects of spam is that it will continue to erode confidence in legitimate e-mail marketing practices, including marketing through genuine opt-in newsletters and other communications media. Because legitimate e-mail marketing is such a useful avenue through which to market goods and services, eliminating it from the mix of marketing media would deal a serious blow to marketing practices in general, just like eliminating marketing from radio or television.

To counter this damaging trend, the Association for Interactive Marketing’s Council of Responsible E-mail (CRE) was formed to “promote the most effective and ethical use of e-mail as a marketing and customer service tool,” among other things. The CRE’s “Resolutions for Responsible E-Mailers” lists six practices that should be followed by responsible e-mailers, including an agreement not to harvest e-mail addresses, not to falsify the subject line of an e-mail message, including in all e-mail an option to unsubscribe from the mailing list, and not sending e-mail to anyone with whom a prior business relationship does not exist.

Perhaps the CRE’s efforts could lead to some sort of “Good Housekeeping Seal” for e-mail delivery, without which commercial e-mail would simply be trashed as far back in the network as possible. The idea would work much like the Habeas concept of including a small amount of trademarked content in the message header to identify “trusted” senders.

Efforts like the CRE’s focus on marketers’ responsibilities with regard to e-mail marketing. Deployments of spam-blocking technology focus on ISPs’ and enterprises’ responsibilities. Antispam laws focus on government responsibilities with regard to spam. But what about the responsibilities of individual users who receive spam and, for all intents and purposes, are the only real market for it?

Perhaps what is needed is a “Do Not Buy” commitment from spam recipients, an agreement never to purchase any product directly as a result of seeing it advertised in a spam message. Despite the efficacy of spam-blocking products and the potential efficacy of the CRE’s and similar organizations’ efforts, simply not buying the stuff that is advertised via spam would be the most effective way of ridding e-mail of this problem.