Spam Laws a Waste?

"Basically it's just politics, an attempt to recognize the issue and try to do something about it," says Adam Sarner, a research analyst at Gartner. "All disreputable spammers have to do is go outside the U.S. jurisdiction to evade the law, while the bill will adversely effect legitimate email marketers." As part of the law mass email advertisements must contain an ADV in the subject line. Sarner says this will do little to help filter legitimate email marketing from bad spam, since recipients will simply use spam blockers to filter out all email with the ADV marking, including both spam and legitimate email. Sarner, however, says the law is actually a plus for email marketers, at least in the area of compliance. "The new law would eliminate the need for email marketers to comply with 36 state antispam laws, many of them more stringent than the new federal law," he says. And although the bill requires a valid opt-out mechanism, it does not define well who should be responsible for upholding the unsubscribe or do-not-contact request. "This means email marketers can blast you without permission, and it is now up to you to opt-out," Sarner says. Gartner research predicts that by 2005 there will be 16 billion emails sent daily, with 60 percent of those emails being spam. "There's a lot of bad, untargeted email out there, and it is up to the legitimate marketer to rise above the noise level of spam, though it is becoming aggressively harder to do so," Sarner says. The solution? Sarner says that sophisticated technology and other spam-filtering devices are not going to help the legitimate marketer anytime soon. What is needed, he says, is simply better email content and presentation. "The only way for marketers to overcome this problem is to come up with valuable emails that consumers can use," Sarner says. "Marketers can use analytics and segmenting tools to find the right person and right time to send an email, but they are not doing that yet."
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