Internet and E-mail Marketing

The Internet has opened up new methods of advertising and marketing-some of which, as in the case of spam, has not been welcomed by most people. The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) took effect in 2004 and set out rules for unsolicited e-mails. More legislation is pending.

Current concerns in Internet marketing include copyrights and trademarks, privacy and order fulfillment. In many ways, these issues parallel the rules that have been in place for ads via print and the airwaves.

Copyright and trademarks: Usually a short quote is okay; more than that calls for permission. Writers have found entire articles picked up and used without their permission. Likewise, trademarks used on the Web should be in line with trademark law.

Privacy: If you want to use customer or client testimonials, you should not post names or pictures without the consent of the client. You need approval in writing.

Order fulfillment: If you promise delivery within a specified time, you can get in trouble with the law and possibly have to pay some expensive fines. By default, the law says you must deliver within 30 days (if you do not note another time frame).

TIP: How do you use e-mail to market products on the Internet without people thinking that it is spam? Experts suggest the following:

  • Ask people to sign up for an e-mail newsletter that you distribute.
  • Use the speed of the Web to keep your subscribers up-to-date on the topic of interest to them.

What does CAN-SPAM say I can and cannot do in an e-mail?

CAN-SPAM requires that any unsolicited commercial e-mails must be labeled as such (although the law does not specify how the labeling is done). It prohibits the use of misleading headers and subject lines. It also requires that the e-mail include a way for the recipient to opt-out of any future mailings, and it should have the sender's physical address.