The Marketing of Can Spam

  |  January 12, 2004   |  Comments

The Can Spam Act becomes the latest marketing tool for companies selling e-mail related products and services.

Almost as soon as the President signed the Can Spam act last month, companies leapt at the chance to position themselves as compliance experts. After all, there is money to be made by helping email marketers meet the new law's requirements.

"With fines that can run to $6 million and a couple years in prison, anyone who doesn't...act now to comply is making a big mistake," reads a press release for a legal teleseminar, invoking the fear of financial loss and personal liberty in an appeal just slightly less blatant than the tone of many spam emails.

Another email pitch, this one for a software company, includes "Can Spam" in the subject line and the first line of the note, apparently just as a way of grabbing the reader's attention; the message is actually about spam blocking for school systems.

Many companies are taking a more reasoned approach, however. Silverpop, which provides email marketing strategy, campaign execution and analytics, began marketing its Can Spam-related services with a December Webinar. The online presentation, shared with about 150 existing customers, was a general information session, according to Elaine O'Gorman, VP of strategy for Silverpop.

The act requires senders of commercial email to provide an opt-out tool for recipients, process opt-out requests within ten business days, use truthful subject lines, use legitimate return email addresses, include physical postal addresses in messages, and clearly label commercial email as advertising.

Silverpop offers both a suppression tool that can help with the opt-out requirements of the act along with expertise on how to comply, and it is these services it is marketing to existing and potential customers. Its next step was a white paper on how to deal with Can Spam, currently up on the company's Web site.

"We have a best practices newsletter and a customer newsletter and we are continually sending out information through these newletters," as well, O'Gorman added. The company also sent out a press release describing its Can Spam-related services.

"There's a lot of excitement about this bill," O'Gorman said. The company is getting a slew of inquiries from potential customers, existing companies and the press about Can Spam, she said.

Indeed, CAN-SPAM Compliance Company, founded in response to the act, garnered a number of clients on the strength of one press release and a Web site (which still includes several "coming soon" sections), according to Michael O'Brien, its founder and CEO.

Blue Sky Factory, which also provides email tools and services, began its marketing push by notifying its clients before the act was passed, according to Greg Cangialosi, the company's president and cofounder.

"Our clients are our lifeblood. We made them aware prior to the end of the year that it would pass," Cangialosi said. "We let them know via email and also called every one of them on the phone," with an explanation of the requirements of the act.

The company modified its software to be Can Spam compliant over the holidays and then sent out a press release Jan. 8 advertising the offering. The next step is a white paper with free advice on how to comply, Cangialosi said.

"We'll put the white paper up on our Web site. Hopefully it will generate some interest and provoke some phone calls on how we can help organizations and companies further with their email marketing needs. It's definitely a big issue," concluded Cangialosi.

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Janis Mara

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