Two Studies Find a Significant Percentage of
Email Marketing Does Not Comply with New US Federal Law
separate studies have found that a significant percentage of email
marketers are not in full compliance with the new federal US CAN-SPAM
A study conducted by MX Labs in January 2004 found that more than
99 percent of unsolicited commercial email in their sample failed to
comply with CAN-SPAM. Their analysis of 1,000 unsolicited commercial
emails found that only 102 met all of the CAN-SPAM Act requirements.
According to Scott Chasin, MX Logic’s chief technology officer. "It is
no surprise that rogue spammers would fail to comply, but the
non-compliant messages we saw appeared to be from all types of
EmailLabs, a provider of email marketing automation solutions
audited more than 100 major email marketers and found while 95 percent
included an unsubscribe process, only 56 percent were in compliance
with one of the simplest aspects of CAN-SPAM, the inclusion of a
postal mailing address. While the company is quick to point out that
the study population was not a statistical sample, the results are
"The bare majority complying with the postal address requirement
appears to indicate that many legitimate email marketers are confused
by CAN-SPAM, don't understand the requirement and/or simply haven't
gotten around to it," said Loren McDonald, Vice President of
Marketing, EmailLabs. "Most major permission-based email marketers do
already adhere to best practices, and have long been doing what the
law now requires, but many are clearly confused by the nuances and
gray areas of the law. From a broader perspective, one potential
benefit of CAN-SPAM and the intense focus on unsolicited email is that
'unintentional spammers' -- those legitimate companies who have not
followed email marketing best practices -- may begin adopting
permission practices and go well beyond just complying with CAN-SPAM,"
McDonald said. "Even if the Act doesn't stop fraudulent and annoying
spam, it may raise the standards of what is considered good permission
In terms of strict CAN-SPAM compliance, Emaillabs found that 56
percent of their sample included postal addresses and more than 95
percent provided an unsubscribe mechanism. None of the emails reviewed
appeared to contain misleading subject lines or other fraudulent
practices employed by spammers. Among the multiple methods to
unsubscribe, 87 percent offered a link, 22 percent an email reply and
11 percent notification by phone or mail. Although not mandated by
CAN-SPAM, 54 percent enabled recipients to update their preferences,
40 percent explained why the email was received and supplied complete
contact information (address, phone, email), and 37.5 percent
According to MX Labs, more than fifty percent of Internet email is
spam, viruses and other unwanted content. Last year, industry analysts
at Ferris Research estimated that unsolicited email would cost U.S.
companies $10 to $13 billion. Spam results in lost productivity,
communication bandwidth consumption, increased storage costs, IT
resource drain and increased corporate liability.
The CAN-SPAM Act creates administrative, civil and criminal tools
to help U.S. business and consumers combat spam. Specifically, the
- Prohibits sending commercial email containing sexually oriented
material unless labeled as such.
- Allows for certain forms of unsolicited commercial email as long as
it is clearly marked as an advertisement and allows consumers to
unsubscribe from future unsolicited commercial email from the sender.
- Outlaws the use of false email headers or the use of a mail server
or open relay to deceive recipients about the origin of a commercial
- Bans the registration of five or more email accounts or two or more
domain names with false information and the use of them to send
- Allows, but does not require, the FTC to create a "Do-Not-SPAM"
registry, much like the recently established and controversial
- Allows the FTC and state attorneys general the ability to vigorously
enforce the laws contained in the anti-SPAM legislation.
- Enforces statutory damages of $2 million for violations, tripled to
$6 million for intentional violations, and unlimited damages for fraud
- Allows the FTC, state attorneys general and Internet providers to
sue companies who violate the law.
As a result of these findings, MarketingToday has added an email
marketing law resource page that will be regularly updated. Please
use this link to visit
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