This is the single most important step you need to take to make sure your email marketing activities are fully compliant with federal law. At Arial Software, we conducted research on the email subscription handling at Fortune 1000 firms, and we’ve found that a vast majority of companies do not adhere to a double opt-in confirmation email subscription process. This is shocking information, because it means that as these companies are building their permission email lists in-house, they really have no way to verify that subscribers actually asked to be subscribed. Thanks to the lack of a double opt-in confirmation process on their web site, virtually anyone could sign up anyone else without their permission. These companies would then be in the position of sending email to subscribers who’ve never asked for it. And this, of course, is the definition of spam.
So the first thing you must do is enhance your email subscription process is to make sure it operates on a double opt-in rather than a confirmation principle. In other words, when someone subscribes to your email newsletter or whatever information you’re offering via email subscription, you must send them an email with confirmation hyperlinks that the subscriber must click in order to confirm their intention to subscribe.
Furthermore, you must log the IP address, date and time, and email address, of every subscription request so you can prove to the subscriber (and possibly the Federal Trade Commission or FTC) that this person indeed requested a subscription.
If you lack this information, then you’re setting yourself up for accusations and attacks by subscribers and, potentially, the FTC. To be safe you must be able to prove that every person you are emailing has, indeed, requested to be emailed by you.
As simple as this precaution sounds, a shockingly large number of well-known companies do not yet adhere to these principles. These are legal time bombs just waiting to go off. Yet there is no need to subject yourself to this sort of legal risk, since moving to a double opt-in confirm email subscription process is exceedingly simple.
If you don’t have the programming talent in your company, you’ll be glad to know that Arial Software is launching a service that does all this for you. The service is called Zeop, and it automates the double opt-in confirm subscription process through the use of a web-based tool that you can easily add to any web site you control. Check out www.zeop.com for more information.
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