Email Evolved: Compliance and Deliverability


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This presentation is from Affiliate Summit East 2013 (August 18-20, 2013) in Philadelphia, PA). Session Description: Compliance doesn’t end with CAN-SPAM. With inbox access more challenging than ever, learn about the increasing importance of compliance on deliverability.

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Email Evolved: Compliance and Deliverability

  1. 1. Peter Wilson LashBack, LLC Affiliate Summit East Email Evolved: Compliance and Deliverability Philadelphia, PA August 20, 2013
  2. 2. Introduction  Peter Wilson, CEO of LashBack  Leading provider of compliance services, brand protection, and marketing intelligence to digital marketers  We provide critical visibility on compliance and email marketing to our clients  Growth business, celebrating our 10th year  We have unique products and deep expertise in the email market  ComplianceMonitor and BrandAlert used by major brands, agencies, and networks  Heavily investing in technology  Review millions of B2C emails on a weekly basis  Hold a U.S. patent for processing unsubscribe requests  Manage a large database/blacklist based on sender reputation  Member of the PMA‟s Compliance Council and the Leadership Council of the Online Trust Alliance 2
  3. 3. Key questions  With all of the focus on social media and other channels, how important is email anyway?  Does email marketing still work?  How is email changing?  What are the key compliance issues?  What are the key deliverability issues?  How are compliance and deliverability related? 3
  4. 4. What does the email market look like? 4 Social media Search Integrated, cross-channel branding Email
  5. 5. What does the email market look like?  Email is not dead or dying, but the market is evolving significantly.  "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated“ -- Mark Twain  It is, in fact, HUGE.  Over 3 billion active email accounts  95% of adult Internet users use email  72% have more than one address  More than 90% of Internet users between 18 and 72 said they send and receive email daily (Pew Internet and American Life Project)  For the most part, EVERYONE RELIES ON EMAIL. 5 “Not having an email address is the digital equivalent of being homeless” “Facebook is the largest email sender in the world” Dela Quist, Alchemy Worx
  6. 6. Email is a priority for most people 6
  7. 7. Email dominates online communication 7
  8. 8. Email is the #1 use of smart phones 8
  9. 9. Email is the #1 use of tablets 9
  10. 10. Email is a trusted channel 10
  11. 11. Email‟s core dynamics  Email is ubiquitous and easy to use  It is a market dominated by 4 providers  In general, there are a few key types of mail  Commercial (3rd party)  CAN-SPAM defines a “commercial message” as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service”  Acquisition mail - Offers sent to lists of consumers that have provided permission  Spam – “Unsolicited commercial email” or “unsolicited bulk email”, email sent without consent  Transactional (1st party)  Messages that relate to existing business relationships or transactions (customers/subscribers)  Also known as relationship or retention mail  Receipts, follow-up messages and information, coupons, newsletters  Other  Personal and corporate 11
  12. 12. Email marketing works 12 72% of survey respondents described email's ROI as excellent or good. Econsultancy Promotional emails are one of the top influences of retail website visits. ForeSee Results 57% of global consumers say they are more likely to buy a product in a store after receiving a marketing e-mail about it. eDialogue More than 50% of consumers make purchases as a direct outcome of email. It also drives more ROI than any other channel including social media and PPC advertising. ExactTarget Email brought in $39.40 for every dollar spent in 2012. Direct Marketing Association 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. Forrester Research Customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last four years. Custora Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails. BloombergBusinessweek
  13. 13. Email marketing works (July 2013 update)  Direct Marketing News - July 10, 2013  Email services provider AWeber stated it expects 85% of SMBs to increase use of email in 2013.  TIME Magazine - July 29, 2013:  In a new survey from Forrester Research and, a division of the National Retail Federation, 80% of retailers said they planned on spending more this year on e-mail marketing campaigns.  WIRED - July 1, 2013:  “Email is Crushing Twitter, Facebook for Selling Stuff Online” 13
  14. 14. Email players and issues  The cost of sending is so low and the information/access so great that there is a TON of mail, much of which consumers hate  Users feel it is a “personal” and constant channel, and want it simple and uncluttered  Providers try to filter and organize (like the new Gmail tabs)  Senders try to increase relevancy or get around the filters (and, now, the tabs)  Regulators try to enforce standards and litigators try to profit from noncompliance  Often the only options available to a consumer are:  Read, ignore, delete, report as spam  Senders with permission have generally done a poor job of establishing relevance  I get too much of this… I don’t want it… I don’t remember signing up for it…  Often consumers don‟t realize that they did provide consent and label messages as spam as the easiest way to stop them (even though they are not spam)  Significant issue for legitimate advertisers and senders  Senders must keep a good record of opt-ins  Senders have to deal with unpredictable changes in mail filters  “Gaming the system” has become increasingly difficult  Focus needs to be on engagement and relevance  Senders also have to deal with undelivered mail  According to Return Path, more than one in five opt-in messages don‟t get to the subscriber‟s inbox 14
  15. 15. Few clear trends in performance 15 Silverpop Mean 2010 Report (2009 data) 2012 Report (2011 data) 2013 Report (2012 data) Unique open rate 22.2% 20.1% 19.7% Gross open rate 42.1% 44.9% 38.6% Click- through rate 4.5% 5.2% 3.6% Click-to- open rate 18.5% 19.3% 18.0% Hard bounce rates 5.5% 2.1% 2.2% Unsubscribe rates 0.21% 0.31% 0.25% Complaint rates 0.09% 0.08% 0.07% Epsilon Q4 2009 Q4 2011 Q1 2013 Q1 2013 Acq. only Open rate 22.0 % 24.8 % 31.1 % 24.5% Click- through rate 5.9% 5.2% 5.1% 2.9% Click-to- open rate 11.8% Bounce rates 3.7% 3.6% “People have lives… If you want a 100 percent open rate, send one email to your mother.” Dela Quist, Alchemy Worx
  16. 16. How is email evolving?  “If you don‟t like change, you‟re going to like irrelevance even less.” General Eric Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army  Inbox organization solutions are proliferating  Changing the visibility of offers beyond the existing bulk versus inbox paradigm  Messages must be designed for mobile and multiple screens/devices  Consumers have little patience for slow or incorrect rendering  Increasingly customized and dynamic multi-channel messages  Optimization - customer profile, behavior, and location impact message content, timing, and frequency  Integration with social  Real-time testing  Providers like: AdStack, LiveIntent, Movable Ink, Sailthru  Filters are increasingly effective  Filter changes are coming more frequently and are more effective and, as a result, some email publishers are struggling with consistent deliverability  DMARC and other authentication protocols are increasingly important  IPv6 is coming and likely shifts the reputation focus toward domains 16
  17. 17. Takeaways  The good  Email is universal and not going be displaced anytime soon  Billions of non-spam messages every day  Email marketing is very effective  The bad  Consumer frustration with clutter  Evolving rules for deliverability  Insufficient focus on compliance  The ugly  70-95% of all email sent is spam  50+ billion spam messages daily 17
  18. 18. Compliance 18 Failing to comply can be very costly in terms of reputation, delivery, relatio nships, fines and other costs Compliance is a critical piece of email marketing “Compliance is the foundation of best practices that shapes reputation and drives profits and deliverability” “Responsibility and Results”, two critical aspects of success in direct marketing
  19. 19. Regulation and compliance  Regulation  CAN-SPAM  California Business & Professions Code  All publishers who market to an individual residing in California need to comply  Other state-based regulation  Canada‟s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)  Applies to anyone sending to an address in Canada  Serious questions about its future  Industry-based standards and best practices  Such as in the education and lending industries  “OLA takes compliance seriously and we expect all of our Members to as well”  Corporate policy  Specific advertiser requirements  Obligation to monitor your partners  Consumers often don‟t distinguish between advertiser, sender, list owner, network, etc.  Responsibility and exposure can‟t be delegated, and that indemnification likely isn‟t worth what you think it is  Per the FTC: “you can‟t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law” 19
  20. 20. CAN-SPAM basics  Content compliance  Message contains no false or misleading header information - “From”, “To”, “Reply-To”, and routing information must be accurate, and not deceptive or misleading  “Subject” line should be relevant and not misleading  Message must be identified as an advertisement  Message must include a valid postal address for the sender (note: “sender” is the party who‟s product, service or site is advertised or promoted by the message)  Best practice: should contain two valid postal addresses (sender and publisher)  Unsubscribe compliance  Message must include an opt-out mechanism for the sender  Best practice: should contain two visible, functioning, hyperlinked opt-out addresses (sender and publisher)  Unsubscribe requests must be honored within 10 business days  No suppression list abuse  Sending & data compliance  Message not sent through open relay  Message not sent to harvested email 20
  21. 21. Examples of industry-specific compliance issues 21  Education  Employability cannot be guaranteed  All citations and sources for school statistics must be present and up to date  Credit reporting  “Subject” line should not offer to improve consumers‟ credit ratings, credit history, or credit record, nor give advice or assistance to consumers on how to improve their credit ratings, credit history or credit record  Jobs  “Subject” line should not imply guaranteed income  Lending  “Subject” line should not offer amounts in excess of $1,000 or same day credit Grant offers used to promote education, job, or business opportunities and advertising easy access to cash are a major red flag, as evidenced by recent FTC action. In May, the FTC began mailing refund checks totaling $1.7 million to more than 20,000 consumers that were defrauded by a group that falsely claimed they could help consumers get free government grant money.
  22. 22. Impact of non-compliance  Per CAN-SPAM, each separate email in violation can generate a fine of up to $16,000  FTC, FCC, State Attorneys‟ General  Multiple recent prosecutions (e.g., Acquinity) and fines involving email marketers, affiliate marketers, text messaging, online advertisers, and merchant processors  Often personal liability  Class action suits, litigation, and threats  Attorneys – such as the precedent setting victory by Dan Balsam against Trancos  Corporations – such as “Utah Court Issues $1.6 Million CAN-SPAM Judgment” in favor of Zoobuh  Consumers – such as “Dear CEO, you have sent me messages without permission, I have documentation, send me „X‟ thousand dollars by „Y‟ date or I will file suit” 22 If you work with lead aggregators and focus only on whether the lead works, you are overlooking your real exposure. How was that lead driven to the form? An education lead that originated with a misleading grant email comes with significant liability to all of the parties.
  23. 23. Aggressive does not equal non-compliant 23  Direct marketing requires a strong message/call-to-action  People often wrongly equate “compliant message” with “weak or ineffective message”  It is important to recognize that acquisition email can be both compliant and effective, if not aggressive  The key threshold is that the message cannot mislead  Subject lines like this are compliant and effective:  “Free credit scores with enrollment”  “Financial aid is available for those who qualify”  Further, the use of personalization and geo-location (“merge tags”) in subject lines are not a violation of CAN-SPAM  “Bob, you may qualify for financial aid”  “Philadelphia area auto coverage”  A commitment to compliance does not mean that messages can‟t be strong and aggressive, it just means that they can‟t mislead
  24. 24. Deliverability 24 “Is this really that big of an issue?... I've learned the answer is a resounding „yes‟.” “Deliverability is an issue that keeps many email marketers awake at night.” “Deliverability remains the biggest challenge faced today” “Email deliverability is the single most critical factor to the success of email campaigns.”
  25. 25. Deliverability myths  From a June posting on, by Spencer Kollas, the head of delivery for CheetahMail:  “… despite the vast amount of information available on the subject, email professionals and marketing experts alike still have many questions around deliverability.”  “Deliverability is all about who you know, if you have the right contacts at the right ISPs, you can get all of your clients mail through to the inbox -- FALSE”  “I can‟t use certain words in my emails, especially not in my subject lines -- FALSE”  “Deliverability is a black art that only a couple of people really understand, and those people want to keep it that way -- FALSE”  “Deliverability folks are always working for the „other team‟ -- FALSE” 25
  26. 26. What determines deliverability?  Factors impacting deliverability (inbox versus bulk versus blocked versus promotions folder)  The components and intent are straightforward, but the details are constantly evolving  Reputation  Complaints (unrecognized, unexpected, unwanted)  Working unsubscribe  Bad addresses  Invalid addresses/unknown users and rejected/bounces (list source, hygiene)  Spam trap hits (list source, hygiene)  Sending infrastructure (IP address/domain, trusted sender/whitelists/blacklists)  Sending stability (size, volume, frequency, timing)  Engagement (open, read, clicked, moved from spam folder)  Right message - Good, relevant content  Right design - Good design, rendering  Right time  Right frequency  Authentication  DMARC, SPF, DKIM 26
  27. 27. Varied approaches to delivery 27 Gmail Yahoo Outlook AOL Reputation and engagement • Most aggressive at blocking bulk commercial mail • No whitelist • SpamGuard looks at complaints and engagement • Whitelist • Reputation metrics • Subscriber “safe” lists • Reputation data via Smart Network Data Services (SNDS) program • Symantec/Brightm ail Probe Network • Smartscreen filtering • Proprietary content-level filtering • Whitelist • Spam filter (complaints, content, traps, etc.) • Spamhaus Authentication • SPF, DKIM, and DMARC • SPF • DKIM
  28. 28. Trends in deliverability  Vast majority of commercial messages sent are spam and blocked  According to Kaspersky estimates, the percentage of spam in email traffic in June was up 1.4 percentage points and averaged 71.1% (this compares to 71.9% a year earlier)  Commtouch estimated daily spam messages at approximately 54 billion in June, the lowest level in years, and the share of spam in the entire email volume at 81.2 percent in Q2  Of worldwide commercial, permissioned mail during the first half of 2013, Return Path has estimated:  18% was blocked or missing  4% went to spam folders  78% was delivered to the inbox (down 4% from a year earlier)  In the U.S., 86% was delivered to the inbox (unchanged from a year earlier)  Anecdotally, delivery of acquisition mail is getting much more difficult  Filters are more sophisticated and changing more frequently 28
  29. 29. The links between compliance and deliverability  In many respects, both deliverability and compliance are about the quality and perception of the message  A message that isn‟t misleading, has a relevant subject line, and contains clear postal and opt-out addresses, is likely to be compliant and more engaging, and result in fewer complaints  The opposite is also true – a message that doesn‟t contain these elements is more likely to be dismissed by the consumer, labeled as spam, and negatively impact delivery  Ensuring that messages sent (by you or on your behalf) are compliant will not only protect your interests in terms of CAN-SPAM and other requirements, but should also improve delivery 29 In a February 2012 MAAWG presentation called “Case for Compliance”, iContact described how an increased focus on compliance dramatically increased their delivery and profitability. Tighter controls have helped them to reduce complaints, “turn the ship around” in terms of delivery, and “dodge a bullet”.
  30. 30. Unsubscribes  Unsubscribes are a particularly important part of both compliance and delivery  If it is not a simple or trusted mechanism for the consumer to unsubscribe, then they are much more likely to report the message as spam, which will significantly impact reputation and future delivery  Further, if an unsubscribe request is not honored, it will impact blacklisting and potentially being blocked by the ISP 30
  31. 31. Conclusion  Email marketing is a huge opportunity with a great ROI  It is a multifaceted and evolving market that requires understanding and dedication  Success comes from delivering a message that is acted upon  No one would debate the relationship between delivery and engagement/relevance  Compliance is a significant issue on its face, in terms of actions by regulators, lawyers, and consumers  It is also linked to delivery just as engagement is… non-compliant messages will impact delivery  In today‟s market:  What makes it to the inbox and what a consumer wants are increasingly tightly connected  Consumers expect quality ads that are compliant, and ignore or report those that aren‟t  Gaming this is increasingly futile  A successful campaign has to “check all of the boxes” – engagement, reputation, authentication, and compliance 31
  32. 32. Conclusion  Thanks for your time and let me know if you have any questions. Peter Wilson Chief Executive Officer Direct: 314.754.2286 Email: 32
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