One Former “Spam King” Reflects on The Post-CAN-SPAM World August 07, 2018, | Posted by erin

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Scott Richter, one of the early email marketing entrepreneurs to get the tag of “Spam King,” took the time to reflect on the changes that have come to the industry in a recent guest-written article for Entrepreneur, discussing the ways in which the CAN-SPAM act has shaped the way that email has grown, developed, and changed since its passage in 2003. One of the most vocal--and highly successful--innovators in email marketing, he offers a fresh perspective that can also be applied to upcoming and current changes in email regulations like GDPR.

Richter got his start in email in 1999, before regulations of any real kind existed; even some 20 years after the very first email marketing campaign (a very simple mass-email sent to approximately 400 email addresses to promote a product), the industry as it stood was mostly self-regulating, though states had begun, slowly, to adopt regulations for the benefit of their residents. As Richter points out, by 2000, “Email marketing companies were regularly charging clients more than $300,000 to send marketing messages to their email databases.” Of course, the industry was incredibly lucrative at this peak point, but there were already rumbles of discontent.

Email marketing agencies found themselves heavily targeted by litigation efforts in the 2000s before the passage of CAN-SPAM, as consumers rebelled against the constant inflow of marketing emails they weren’t interested in; Richter’s company itself had its fair share of legal battles to fight, which is why they--along with most of the industry in general--actually welcomed the CAN-SPAM act. The law, as Richter points out, doesn’t make spam emails illegal; instead it codifies the rules by which even spam marketers can conduct themselves.

Permission-based email changed the game, as we at Site Impact know very well. While many claimed that the industry fought back against the regulation, preferring the “Wild West” territory they’d been in (and certainly, as Richter points out, there were powerful financial incentives that went away after the passage of the law), having rules was the push it took for email marketing to become more competitive, and more evidence-based. Campaigns began focusing on measurable performance metrics--first conversions, and then clicks and more--which meant that the agencies that could deliver quality lists and solid campaign development have taken the forefront of the industry.

Every year or so--even a few times a year--there’s an article that claims to sound the death knell for email marketing and claim a variety of reasons why; more recently, the EU’s GDPR has been cited as the contributing factor for the current or coming demise of the marketing channel. But as Richter himself points out in the article, there’s no reason to think that email is going anywhere anytime soon: in fact, even brands that maintain robust social or search engine campaigns keep a big chunk of their budget for email, for a simple reason: it works. Contact Site Impact to find out how we can help your brand enter or get to the next level when it comes to email marketing. Check out the guest column in Entrepreneur here.