Marketers gain comfort with CAN-SPAM Act, return to e-mail

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More marketers are coming back to e-mail marketing after showing initial reluctance in the wake of the CAN-SPAM Act going into effect in January 2004, and data managers are rising to meet the growing demand.

For example, American List Counsel announced last week its renewed commitment to e-mail data management by forming an Interactive Media Group, headed by VP Larry Karipides. The group will seek to maximize revenues for clients by helping them tightly integrate their e-mail and direct mail efforts.

"Where I see and view e-mail as a strength is as part of an integrated approach," Karipides said. "You need a strategic approach to e-mail and [to] bump that up against direct mail to get the most out of your programs."

Other list management companies have embraced a similar strategy.

For example, Edith Roman's e-mail division, e-Post Direct-which has offered b-to-b e-mail list rental for seven years-has promoted multichannel marketing in recent years as an effective way to engage customers.

MeritDirect is another company that has dedicated resources to multichannel marketing efforts through its Interactive Services Group, as have Worldata and Direct Media.

What is new is marketers' ability and willingness to apply integrated e-mail and postal mailing strategies in their campaigns.

One consultant says it has become de rigueur. "When I ask for a list recommendation [for my clients] the old-line b-to-b brokers are giving me fully integrated plans that are media neutral about how to reach prospects," said Ruth Stevens, president of consultancy eMarketing Strategies. "They come back to me with phone, e-mail and mail options that are very powerful."

Chris Longo, director of e-mail network for e-Post Direct, said: "I sell an e-mail list of 100,000 names, and I have postal addresses for 90% of them. I think there have been mailers doing it for a while. Are there more marketers coming around to it? Definitely."

Another list executive agreed.

"We've seen an increase in our company for those types of solutions," said Mike Mayhew, senior VP-business list management at Direct Media. That demand, he said, is "starting to gain some traction," and the call is typically for e-mail, postal and, in many cases, telemarketing lists.

The eCommerce Service Group within Direct Media is dedicated to helping clients understand and develop interactive marketing. Like similar groups at the other companies mentioned, it provides e-mail appending services, lead generation, e-mail house file development, CRM and customer retention, all centered around uniting that information with lists in other media.

Many list companies have also begun to think beyond list rental. "We're helping clients with search engine optimization," Mayhew said.

Another list company, Kroll Direct Marketing, which focuses on list brokerage and Web-based services, is now looking into the SMS text messaging channel. Company President Leland Kroll said there is an opportunity to get Web site visitors to opt in to providing their cell phone numbers. Those can be collected for future advertising through text messaging, he said.

Still some reluctance

Not all marketers are back in the e-mail game yet.

Kristin Miller, eBusiness Manager for Kimberly Clark Professional, the b-to-b division of Kimberly Clark, said her company is not currently using e-mail for customer acquisition.

She said legal concerns currently make it too complicated to work well for her business, though she may consider it again for prospecting in the future.

"Since the [CAN-SPAM] law has gone into effect, my company takes a strict line, following the letter of the law," Miller said. "A lot of work I do has to go through a complicated legal process to make sure we have the proper opt-in rules to comply with the law." M

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