DMA Unveils New E-Marketing Guidelines
By Paul Barbagallo, assistant editor, Target Marketing & Inside Direct Mail
The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) unveiled Monday new guidelines regarding the sending of commercial solicitations by e-mail and the posting of Web site privacy policies, a shift in the organization's policy from several years ago.
Initially, The DMA deemed it acceptable to prospect to an e-mail address unless its owner has requested otherwise. But the new guidelines prohibit prospecting with non-permission-based e-mail lists.
According to The DMA, the new guidelines are part of a continuing effort to promote higher ethical standards among marketers.
"Responsible marketers want to build trust with their customers and prospective customers, and this is another groundbreaking way of achieving that goal," said Patricia Faley, vice president for ethics and consumers affairs, The DMA.
The online commercial solicitation guidelines set a minimum standard for how commercial e-mail can be sent from marketers to consumers. Those include the following:
*Solicitations sent online should disclose the marketer's identity.
*The subject line should be clear, honest and not misleading.
*The marketer must provide specific contact information an individual can use to opt out of in-house lists or restrict transfer of his or her information to other marketers.
*The marketer must provide information on how consumers can obtain service or information. The marketer's street address should be made available in the e-mail solicitation or by a link to the marketer's Web site.
*The marketer is required to "scrub" its e-mail lists obtained through third-party marketers using The DMA's e-Mail Preference Service (eMPS) suppression file.
As a result of the newly issued guidelines, The DMA received praise from some industry groups for its departure from previous thinking.
"They [The DMA] have been looking at e-mail as a critical marketing tool and a way to preserve it," said Vincent J. Schiavone, president and CEO, ePrivacy group, a consulting, training and technology company. "The importance of e-mail as a commercial channel increased after September 11. And these guidelines are a move in the right direction to preserve it."