E-MPS Won't Solve Spam Problem

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The Direct Marketing Association is in a spot. It has to appear to be taking a tough stance against spam to avoid regulation, but the launch today of its E-Mail Preference Service isn't the answer. Spammers won't use E-MPS, and the companies responding properly to current market conditions don't need it. Those conditions? Opt-in e-mail marketing.

Marketers can't just apply the traditional DM techniques to e-mail by sending out thousands of unsolicited messages in hopes of getting a 2 percent response. It takes a voluntary relationship. With e-mail, you run the risk of damaging your brand in ways not possible before the Internet. The old 99-percent-who-don't-respond-don't-matter rule doesn't work anymore. All it takes is one consumer to register the domain ThisMarketerStinks.com. What many direct marketers don't understand is the difference between a person's mailbox and his computer. The mailbox in front of your house is free; it's something everyone has. There's a personal attachment, however, to your computer. It cost thousands of dollars and it continues to cost you money just to stay connected each month. Unsolicited correspondence in e-mail boxes is perceived as an invasion of people's homes.

If marketers don't act responsibly, we'll lose a medium that wasn't given time to reach its incredible potential. Take, for instance, the Arizona Democratic Party, which wants to compile an e-mail list by asking its members who vote in the state's online primary in March to say "yes" to receiving solicitations. It's getting their permission before it blankets them for contributions and the like. If you're doing a promotion with people who have given you their e-mail addresses because they're interested in what you have to offer, you'll see a much higher response.

•New Special Topics

This year, DM News adds two more special topic sections to the lineup, one that's featured in this issue: Retail Direct Marketing. On Feb. 7, we'll highlight the other: Circulation Marketing. Both sections will appear quarterly this year, so if you have news or would like to write a contributed article in either of these areas, please let us know.

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