Legal Issues Facing Email Marketers … and How to Comply With Them, Part 2

This is part 2 of a three-part series on legal issues facing email marketers, including what the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act is and how to comply with it; how to safely manage your behavioral targeting campaigns; and how European data protection laws affect email marketers. This week I’ll tackle behavioral targeting. In the May 28 issue, I’ll examine European data protection laws. For part 1, and a look at how email marketers can set up their operations to comply with CAN-SPAM, click here.

Behavioral targeting is a technique used by online publishers and advertisers to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns. This type of targeting uses information collected on an individual’s web-browsing behavior, such as pages they’ve visited or searches they’ve made, to select which advertisements to display to that individual.

Practitioners believe this helps marketers deliver relevant online advertisements to users most likely to be interested. Behavioral targeting can be used on its own or in conjunction with other forms of targeting based on factors like geography, demographics or surrounding content.

A company’s most important asset is its relationship with customers, and trust is an essential part of that relationship. Trust is something that develops over time and accrues value. Marketers should approach data collection and use as business transactions. It should be looked upon essentially as an agreement between the business collecting the data and the individual from whom the data is collected.

Businesses must address the issue of privacy rights and concerns for the individuals whose data they collect if they want consumers to be willing to accept online advertising as a legitimate and useful medium. This includes more accurate and easy-to-read disclosures in privacy policies and at the point of collection.

Steve Lucas is chief compliance officer at Blue Sky Factory, a Baltimore-based email marketing services provider. Reach Steve at