DMA Unveils E-mail Append Guidelines

The Direct Marketing Association on Feb. 25 adopted guidelines for appending e-mail addresses to consumer records. For members, the guidelines must be adhered to as a condition of membership, as according to the DMA announcement “unresolved violations place companies at risk of expulsion and attendant publicity.”

The guidelines are published in the DMA publication, “Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice.” They include the following:

Among the guidelines, they specify that a marketer should append a consumer’s e-mail address to its database only when the consumer gives a marketer permission to add his or her e-mail address to the marketer’s database.

Other conditions are when there is an established business relationship with that consumer either online or offline; and when the data used in the append process are from sources that provided notice and choice regarding the acceptance of receiving third-party e-mail offers and where the consumer did not opt out; and when reasonable efforts are taken to ensure the appending of accurate e-mail addresses to the corresponding consumer records.

Among other guidelines, a marketer should not sell, rent, transfer, or exchange an appended e-mail address of a consumer unless it first offers notice and choice to the consumer. What’s more, all messages to an e-mail appended address should include a notice and choice to continue to communicate via e-mail. And marketers should have in place appropriate record keeping systems to ensure compliance with these guidelines.

The DMA’s Ethics Publications and Tools can be viewed online at

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