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Industry scrambles to comply with e-mail legislation

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In an attempt to ensure compliance with the new federal anti-spam legislation and to guarantee ongoing commitment to commercial e-mail marketing, several e-mail marketing providers are working to educate clients on the intricacies of the law, which took effect on Jan. 1.

"People are hesitant because they don’t know if they’re going to do something wrong," said Bill Nussey, president-CEO at Silverpop Systems, an e-mail service provider.

Accela Communications, a Web-based IDG affiliate that generates leads for clients, sends several million e-mails each month, said Ann Roskey, VP-marketing and audience development.

"We did an extensive review of all of our processes and our databases to be sure we were compliant," Roskey said. "We had to do it very quickly because there was very little time between when the law was signed and when it went into effect." (The bill was signed on Dec. 16 and took effect 16 days later.)

Accela brought in outside resources to deal with the intricacies of the new law: It produced an on-demand Webcast, hosted by e-mail provider Yesmail and law firm Latham & Watkins, on the topic. The Webcast can be viewed at http://www.accelacommunications.com/yesmail.html.

Marketing associations have also taken an active role in educating marketers. For example, as a service to its members, American Business Media published a summary of the law and posted it on its Web site.

The Direct Marketing Association has been keeping its members posted, too. It hosted a teleconference in December and released an analysis of the law. A summary can be found on the DMA’s Web site.

More recently, DMA announced it will host four briefing events in February in New York, Washington, San Francisco and Chicago.

E-mail marketing vendors, meanwhile, are taking measures to ensure their clients are not breaking the law. Silverpop, for example, is offering consulting services to ensure clients’ e-mail marketing campaigns are in accordance with the law (see sidebar, below).

Service providers Responsys and Blue Sky Factory also have adapted their software and services.

However, some in the industry warn that many marketers are still not following all facets of the new edict. "We noticed in the [first week the law took effect] that a lot of e-mails coming through are still not compliant," said Greg Cangilosi, president and co-founder at Blue Sky Factory, commenting on e-mail reaching his own in-box. "A lot of marketers are still not educated about the basic facts."

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