Authentication becoming standard practice for e-mail marketers

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BOSTON - Authentication is a key factor for direct marketers using e-mail marketing to connect to customers.

That is what executives from the e-mail marketing industry discussed in a panel titled "Through the Looking Glass: Authentication Update from the Marketing POV" at the Authentication and Online Trust Summit. They said it was important to keep up a good mailing reputation when running an online marketing program.

"List hygiene is a very important element," said Jeanniey Mullen, partner and senior director at OgilvyOne Worldwide. "If you've got a dirty list … you are going to get a bad reputation and get blocked from deliverability."

Authentication is also important for getting quality feedback from Internet service providers.

"If you're not authenticated, you're not going to be in some important feedback loops," said Josh Baer, chief technical officer of Datran Media.

Authentication is also a critical step in deliverability.

"Sender ID, SPF and DomainKeys - you want to be doing one or each of those," Mr. Baer said. "Then you [will be] on the right track."

Smaller companies that do not work with e-mail service providers, however, have become frustrated with the number of changes to best practices for authentication.

"Tell us what to do and we'll do it, but quit changing what it is all the time," Ms. Mullen said. "My job is to sell widgets, not update my software system."

Mr. Baer said that the industry was trying to come up with a more centralized execution plan with small updates. He recommended that small businesses use a service such as Constant Contact to manage a network of small senders and keep up with best practices.

In addition, Microsoft and Yahoo have online testing that marketers can use to test their sending habits and clean up reputations, something that should be measured as spam can affect a legitimate mailer's reputation through spoofing.

"A lot more of the spam I have gotten in the last year bounces from someone whose address has my name in their contact list," Mr. Baer said. "You don't know when this is happening, but it is affecting your reputation if you are not authenticating."

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