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Legal Requirements

19 January, 2016 - 17:13

So far, there are no regulations regarding sugging, although that may change if the FTC decides a crackdown is needed. There are, however, regulations affecting how one uses e-mail to sell.

Specifically, the CAN-SPAM Act prohibits the use of e-mail, faxes, and other technology to randomly push a message to a potential consumer. Spam is a term for unwanted commercial e-mail similar to junk mail. Using e-mail and other forms of technology to sell is legal if the seller and the buyer have a preexisting relationship or if the buyer has given his or her permission.

Permission marketing is a term that was created to suggest that marketers should always ask for permission to sell or to offer buyers marketing messages. The idea was that when permission is granted, the buyer is willing to listen. Now, however, anything “free” online requires that you sign up and give “permission,” not just to get the freebie but also all kinds of future spam and annoying messages. You might also inadvertently give a seller permission or allow it sell your name and contact information. When you sign up for contests or agree to the seller’s privacy statement when you order something online, you may have given them permission to resell your contact information to one of their “partners.”

Because of trust issues and the overuse of permission marketing, many consumers create dump accounts, or e-mail addresses they use whenever they need to register for something online. The dump account is used only for this purpose, so that all spam goes to that account and not the person’s personal account. Many consumers find it easier to use dump accounts rather than read every privacy policy and try to remember which vendors won’t sell the e-mail addresses to their “partners” for marketing purposes. Therefore, when you are a marketing manager, don’t expect all the e-mail addresses you collect from a free offer to be valid.

Figure 14.8 Attendees to the LinuxWorld trade show agree when they buy their tickets to allow the exhibitors to send them e-mail, postal mail, and marketing messages through a variety of channels. Some companies use preshow e-mails to get attendees to visit their booths. Postshow e-mails might be part of a follow-up campaign.  
Source: Wikimedia Commons. 

In the B2B world, when attendees sign up for a trade show, they often give the show’s exhibitors permission to send them e-mails and other information. Most sellers won’t send marketing communication to fax machines because they are often shared by a number of people, and there is no guarantee that the intended person will receive the fax. Using e-mail, however, is acceptable because the buyer gave permission.