By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2004-02-02 Print this article Print

According to CAN-SPAM legislation, e-mail must meet five basic requirements to avoid being labeled "unsolicited commercial" e-mail:

  • The e-mail message must have correct header information.

  • The message must have an accurate subject line.

  • The message must contain a functioning return e-mail address.

  • Senders must not send e-mail more than 10 business days after receiving a request to be removed from a mailing list.

  • Commercial e-mail must contain a clear identification that the message is an advertisement, must contain a conspicuous notice of opportunity to decline further e-mail and must display the physical postal address of the sender.

The law appears to allow companies to send one unsolicited e-mail, but that e-mail must meet all the other criteria stated above. However, once an e-mail recipient tells the sender not to send further unsolicited e-mail, senders are obliged to comply.

This means IT departments must work to ensure that database systems storing customer information are maintained in such a way that unsubscribe requests are processed quickly.

This is where companies such as CAN-SPAM Compliance and Responsys Inc. can help. CAN-SPAM Compliance was established to help marketers comply with the new act. Responsys is a full-service provider of outsourced e-mail marketing services. Setting up and maintaining a master opt-out list can be accomplished without using these types of services, but we believe its well worth considering an outsourced solution when multiple lines of business and multiple e-mail service providers are involved in e-mail campaigns.

"Making e-mail comply with the requirements of CAN-SPAM is really quite easy," said Mike OBrien, chief technology officer of CAN-SPAM Compliance, which was formed at the end of last year. "The hard part is maintaining the opt-out list, especially if a company is using multiple advertising agencies."

CAN-SPAM Compliance and Responsys take different approaches to the issue. CAN-SPAM Compliance focuses on ensuring that client e-mail lists are not misused, whereas Responsys provides comprehensive marketing services that include guaranteed delivery of legitimate e-mail. Responsys new Deliverability service integrates with CRM (customer relationship management) systems, including those from Salesforce.com Inc. and Siebel Systems Inc.

CAN-SPAM Compliance uses what it calls "secure seed" addresses, which it monitors to ensure that third-party e-mail senders arent misusing lists. Seeding works by inserting dummy e-mail addresses into unsubscribe lists and monitoring their use (and abuse).

Costs for services vary greatly, based in large part on list sizes, campaign frequency and other marketing services purchased along with the CAN-SPAM conformity check.

CAN-SPAM Compliances suppression list management service starts at $250 per month. Responsys Deliverability service—which includes a wide range of options, including opt-out list generation, creative assistance and multiple touches with recipients—averages $5,000 per month. These services provided on a one-time basis average $10,000 to $15,000.

Next page: Maintaining the opt-out list

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at csturdevant@eweek.com.

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