Chapell & Associates

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What's Your Delivery Score?

MediaPost - November 29, 2005
Imagine if e-mail spam didn't exist anymore. Minus the clutter, more legitimate e-mail would get delivered. Consumers would more readily welcome, read, and respond to relevant e-mail from companies they trusted. And that, in turn, would fuel more use of targeted e-mail as a customer communication tool. That's the goal of e-mail service providers (ESPS), Internet service providers (ISPS), and marketers, who are adopting two new types of e-mail delivery protocol standards, authentication tags and accreditation, which results in a "reputation" score very similar to a credit score.

The Chapell View
In the past, it has sometimes seemed like the fight against spam was taking divergent paths: some focused on deterring the more illegitimate sort of spam, while others looked to boost consumer confidence in email marketing. And this made some sense. Spam creates two distinct problems - as Chapell & Associates has discussed before - causing consumers to be taken in by phishers or other scammers, or just have their inboxes filled with junk, and leaving marketers to deal with consumers who don't trust any email marketing.

Earlier approaches to dealing with spam have often focused on one or the other problem. And while some of these initiatives may have been effective - CNET reports that over 90 % of spam is blocked by some email providers - the overall strategy seemed to be, shall we say, scattered.

So I'm happy to say that the new push for email authentication through accreditation seems to have some chance of succeeding. With Microsoft, Yahoo!, DoubleClick, the ESPC, the Direct Marketing Association and others involved, we can hope that it will get off the ground. These organizations' backing is certainly a good thing - for accreditation to work, a large number of people (if not everyone) has to buy into the system. The lack of support is part of the reason similar pushes have failed to catch on in the past.

But accreditation would be a good thing for everyone. Consumers would have fewer offers for products they had absolutely no interest in, and would have less fear over identity theft because of email scams. Marketers who followed best practices would have more of their email offers appear in consumer inboxes, and would have a consumer audience who would likely become far more receptive to the marketing emails they did receive.

I admit to some skepticism: as I said, the basic idea has been around for awhile, and until now there hasn't been enough of a push for it to work. But maybe consumers can start look forward to less offers for investiture of third world millions and more tailored to their actual needs.
posted by Isaac on Thursday, December 01, 2005

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