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Hit List

The Senate cracks down on spam.

The Senate's approval of the so-called "Anti-Spam Bill" (S.1618) in May was a warning for marketers who stuff the nation's e-mail boxes with electronic junk mail. The bill, which threatens fines of up to $15,000 for those who send unsolicited e-mail messages without a return address or refuse requests to remove a recipient from an e-mailing list, comes in the wake of a number of spam attacks that deluged ISPs with such massive amounts of untraceable spam that the ISPs' servers crashed.

Luckily, there's a less intrusive form of e-mail marketing available. NetCreations Inc., a New York City Internet marketing firm, offers an "opt-in" e-mail service called PostMaster Direct Response. Users request information by selecting from a list of topics and filling out registration forms at NetCreations' 60 partner Web sites, which include CMPnet (http://www.cmpnet.com), REGARDS.COM (http://www.regards.com) and The CD-ROM Shopper's Guide (http://www.thecdromguide.com).

Begun in 1995, PostMaster Direct Response currently has more than 1.3 million people on its distribution lists. "The concept is really blossoming, which tells me we're on the right track," says Michael Mayor of NetCreations. "We're finally giving consumers the power to [decide] what goes into their e-mail boxes."

NetCreations rents and sells its PostMaster Direct Response mailing lists, but the company handles delivery of messages to users' e-mail addresses, ensuring that users only receive information on topics of their choice and can cease subscription to the service at any time.

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hit List.

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