Wednesday, September 24, 2008
New IAB Email Report Lays Out Good Behavior For Data Management
By John Gaffney, Senior Analyst
When it comes to email marketing maybe we all just need to get along. That was the main message conveyed in the Internet Advertising Bureau’s best practice report released last week, which was notable for its emphasis on “trust” and the email “ecosystem.”
With most marketers relying on email as the main driver of lead generation campaigns, the report “Email Data Management Best Practices” was light on new research, but confirmed many industry practices on acquiring and retaining customer addresses. Its goal in outlining the technology involved in effective practices was to “promote consumer and advertiser trust in and adoption of the email channel and to encourage responsible practices by all involved in the email ecosystem.”
By acting responsibly, the report stated, each email sender will build trust for itself as well as competitors. It made several recommendations. For lead generation, the most important were the following three:
Informed consent: “Senders should only send commercial email to individuals who have provided informed consent,” stated the report. In the interest of building community trust it urged all email senders and providers to commit to a “pledge” That pledge, which is also endorsed by TRUSTe, requires that marketers continue to serve only names that have been acquired via opt-in policies, and also provide free and frequent access to unsubscribe links.
The informed consent section of the report also addressed list owners, list rentals, and advertising on email via email ad networks. “Many companies that build email address lists (List Owners) are not experts on the complexities of monetizing that email list through advertising. Accordingly, these companies often contract with third-party List Managers with a core competency in monetizing email lists through advertising,” the report stated. “If List Owners share email addresses with List Managers for monetization purposes, significant due diligence procedures is necessary to validate the third parties’ compliance with CAN-SPAM and ensure adequate protection of the data.”
Data collection: Here the IAB sounded not so much a warning as an advisory tone. It recommends “clear, conspicuous and repeated notice of data collection” where that is the goal of the email. “Be clear about what you are offering the consumer. State the benefits, the content of the emails, the frequency and when the subscriber should expect the first email,” is stated. It also recommended keeping permission current and in an especially relevant section for lead generation, reaching out to subsets of customers who are not opening or clicking on emails frequently.
Authentication: Because most companies are dealing with relatively small sets of customers and potential customer in lead generation activities, many overlook the need to authenticate their email communications as well as the domain they are sent form. Here the IAB urged all email senders to authenticate all email domains by the end of the year. It is partnering with the Authentication & Online Trust Alliance (AOTA) on that front.
The report also includes extensive sections on handling bouncebacks, unsubscribe policies, and third party list usage. The full report is available here