New rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission in May 2008 require the opt-out process to be simple and easy. The rules say that the opt-out process can’t require any fees or the input of a password, login, or other information that would somehow hinder unsubscribing. The opt-out process must require no more than the recipient’s email address. (You can’t run people through multiple steps to verify their identity.) In addition, the opt-out procedures must either be a single email reply or a visit to a single web page (i.e., you can’t require people to run through promotional pages or hinder them in any way on their way to unsubscribing.)
The new rules also have implication for B2B marketing professionals who serve companies with multiple divisions.
“If an entity operates through separate lines of business or divisions and holds itself out to the recipient throughout the message as that particular line of business or division rather than as the entity of which such line of business or division is a part, then the line of business of the division shall be treated as the sender of such message for purposes of this Act.”
What this means for B2B marketers is that people who have opted out of Division A’s email can still be sent email by Division B. However, if you’re going to do this, make sure the entirety of your email’s content is from and about a single division and that the “sender” of the email is identified as the division. Also, if someone has opted out of a division’s email, the parent company can still send email to that person. The advice here is to be very clear just who the “sender” of the email is. Keep your content related to the “sender”, and make sure all other matters such as the physical address and opt-out processes align with that sender. If you can’t keep it all straight and separate, the best advice would be to unsubscribe the recipient from the lists of the parent and all divisions.
1 thought on “B2B Email Marketers: New Opt-Out Regulations Effective July 7, 2008”
Good clarification, Galen.
This is a perfect opportunity to preserve the trust of your online audience. Marketers who see this “separation” as simply an opportunity to, in effect, continue bombardment under a different name will pay the ultimate price in credibility. Those who manage it well, as you suggest–ie, make the situation very clear on the “you are unsubscribed” note (perhaps even asking the recipient’s desire given the situation)–will fare the best.