Acknowledging the critical importance of consumer consent regarding email marketing, the IAB, NAI's ESPC and TRUSTe, have announced The Email Marketing Pledge - the most strident set of email marketing guidelines to date. Through its clear mandate regarding permission and use of email addresses, the Pledge will increase industry accountability, and curb unwanted and unsolicited commercial email. The Pledge is as follows:
- Unsolicited Commercial Email
- Unsolicited commercial email must not be sent.
- Commercial Email
- Commercial email must not be sent to an individual's e-mail address unless one of the following situations exists:
i. There is an existing business relationship; or
ii. Prior informed consent of the individual has been obtained.
- Content of Commercial Email
- Every commercial email must include an opportunity for the recipient to unsubscribe from receiving such email in the future. Such requests to unsubscribe must be processed promptly and the recipient should be informed of the length of time required for processing.
- Commercial email must not include "from address" fields, subject lines and message bodies that are misleading, false, or deceptive. Subject lines must not mislead as to the content and purpose of the message.
- Gathering of Email Addresses
- Email addresses must not be gathered through surreptitious methods (e.g., scraping or harvesting).
Commercial Email: email messages, sent in volume, the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a product or service
Business Relationship: A relationship between the sender of an email message and the recipient. Such a relationship may be created through the facilitation or completion of a commercial transaction between the sender and a recipient. A business relationship may also be created through prior correspondence initiated by an individual, including requests for information, responses to questionnaires or surveys, responses to sweepstakes or contests, or offline contact.
Informed Consent: A mechanism through which an individual is clearly and fully notified of the collection and use of an email address and has consented prior to such collection and use. Informed Consent may be implemented in the following forms:
Opt-in: At the point of email address collection, a person has affirmatively requested to be included on an email list to receive commercial email. No confirmation email is sent and the person is not required to take further action to be included on the email list.
Confirmed Opt-in: At the point of email address collection, a person has affirmatively requested to be included on an email list to receive commercial email. An email is subsequently sent to the person, notifying the person that their email address has been added to the email list. The person is not required to take further action to be included on the email list.
Double Opt-in: At the point of email address collection, a person has affirmatively requested to be included on an email list to receive commercial email. An email is subsequently sent to the person, notifying the person that some action is necessary before their email address will be added to the email list.
Unsubscribe: A mechanism through which an individual may request that he or she no longer receive commercial email.
Unsolicited Commercial Email: Commercial Email sent without an existing business relationship or prior informed consent.