It didn’t take the IAB’s Email Committee long to prove its worth. Today, less than two months after formation, the committee announced an Ethical eMail Guarantee, a set of suggested guidelines for obtaining and use of email lists. The committee hopes that all IAB member companies will incorporate the guidelines into their ordering processes (there’s no reason for them not to), separating responsible marketers from those who continue to abuse the medium. Here are the guidelines: List Provider guarantees that all records [email addresses] they deliver to on behalf of the client have specifically agreed to receive third party offers. List Provider agrees to fully disclose the source of any email address record delivered to on behalf of the client, including the exact method by which permission was obtained, upon inquiry from either the client or any individual receiving email from the List Provider on behalf of the client. List Provider assures that it is mailing the contracted volume to unique email addresses in the exact quantity ordered. List Provider will not jeopardize the client's brand by over-delivering above the contracted amount unless specifically requested by the client through an amendment of the contractual terms. List Provider assures that delivered mailings are sent to the exact select criteria designated by the client in the contractual terms as determined by the contact's most recently recorded data with the List Provider. List Provider agrees to honor all unsubscribe requests that may result from the campaign. If the List Provider has violated any of these guarantees on a contracted mailing then they will refund the invoiced amount.
I’m not so optimistic as to say these guidelines will curb Spam any time soon (there are too many crooked emailers out there who just don’t care about killing the golden goose), but they're definitely a much-needed step in the right direction for legitimate email marketers.