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US E-Mail Marketing Guidelines Published

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

15 October 2003

The US Association for Interactive Marketing (AIM) on Thursday issued long-awaited best practice guidelines for the delivery of commercial e-mail.

The proposed recommendations (which are not enforceable) were originally planned for release in May, but were delayed by an internal dispute between the Association and its parent organisation, the Direct Marketing Association, over the extent of the restrictions which should be recommended.

Provisions contained within the guidelines state that:

  • Bulk mailings of commercial e-mails should only go to persons with whom a marketing firm or business has an existing relationship, or to those internet users who have given their consent to receive such mail;
  • Commercial e-mails should contain content relevant to the existing business relationship, and should not have misleading subject headings;
  • Relationships should be established between online marketers and ISPs in order to ensure that legitimate commercial e-mails are recognised as such;
  • List hygiene must be maintained, and issues such as replies, removals, and address validations efficiently dealt with;
  • Consumers and industry should be educated on the uses and abuses of commercial e-mail, and how to deal appropriately with the latter;
  • Enquiries and dispute resolution should be dealt with in an efficient and courteous manner.

Speaking last week, AIM's executive director, Kevin Noonan explained that:

"Incorporating these best practices into one's marketing activities will help ensure that legitimate e-mail gets delivered. But perhaps what's most important is that following these practices will not only defend, but enhance that most treasured asset, the brand, by respecting and addressing the preferences of consumers.

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