Friday, June 5, 2009

The DMA's E-mail Append Guidelines

The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) offers specific guidelines for appending e-mail addresses to consumer records. The DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice must be adhered to as a condition of membership in the association; unresolved violations place companies at risk of expulsion and attendant publicity.

"E-mail has proven effective as a vehicle for communication between ethical businesses and consumers," said Patricia Faley Kachura, vice president, ethics & consumer affairs, The DMA. "We’ve adopted guidelines that outline the appropriate ways to approach consumers in order to establish effective e-mail relationships."

The guidelines as published in The DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, are as follows:

Guidelines on E-mail Appending to Consumer Records

Definition of e-mail address appending: E-mail address appending is the process of adding a consumer’s e-mail address to that consumer’s record. The e-mail address is obtained by matching those records from the marketer’s database against a third-party database to produce a corresponding e-mail address.

A marketer should append a consumer’s e-mail address to its database only when the consumer gives a marketer permission to add his or her e-mail address to the marketer’s database; or

  1. There is an established business relationship with that consumer either online or offline; and

  2. The data used in the append process are from sources that provided notice and choice regarding the acceptance of receiving third-party e-mail offers and where the consumer did not opt out; and

  3. Reasonable efforts are taken to ensure the appending of accurate e-mail addresses to the corresponding consumer records.

A marketer should not sell, rent, transfer or exchange an appended e-mail address of a consumer unless it first offers notice and choice to the consumer.

All messages to an e-mail appended address should include a notice and choice to continue to communicate via e-mail.

Marketers should have in place appropriate record keeping systems to ensure compliance with these guidelines.

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