DMA Requires E-Mail Authentication, Updates Best Practices

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DMA Requires E-Mail Authentication, Updates Best Practices


By Christine Blank


ATLANTA -- Direct Marketing Association members have 60 to 90 days to start authenticating their e-mail before disciplinary action begins, the DMA said at DMA·05. Disciplinary action first includes education before expulsion if members don't adopt the standard.


Several e-mail service companies said they were pleased by the news.


"Authentication is a great thing for the DMA to push its members to do," said Matt Blumberg, CEO of e-mail performance management company Return Path, New York, though he added, "I don't think anyone thinks [authentication is} going to solve the spam problem."


Small to midsize companies that do not already use e-mail authentication may now get on board, Blumberg said.


Though she doesn't think it will solve all authentication problems, Elaine O'Gorman, vice president of strategy at e-mail marketing provider Silverpop, Atlanta, said it was a wise move.


"Whatever we can do to push adoption is good," she said. "Authentication doesn't work for anyone until there is a critical mass."


Greco explained more details of the authentication process during a press conference last week.


"We always start with an assumption that if someone isn't doing something, the first step is to help them understand how they can do it better," he said. "But if on a repeated basis that is not effective, then we do not want the rest of the DMA community brought down by that."


The DMA is not recommending any particular type of authentication.


"It doesn't matter which one you check against as long as your authenticator works, and I think people had to get over that hurdle and understand that," Greco said.


Greco said the ISPs did not request the DMA to take the action, but is another sign that the industry can regulate itself.


"It's good for our businesses to deliver the messages that they want to deliver," he said. "To authenticate, they've got ... a higher probability of delivery. To the consumer, they'll know it's coming from something that's authenticated, and the combination of that is if it's good for both parties and they're both happy, the regulator is also pleased with that and doesn't feel that they need to come in and regulate."


However, at least one e-mail service provider said the new requirement means nothing.


"They have absolutely no way to control it. The DMA or some organization saying you have to authenticate doesn't mean anything," said Tricia Robinson, chief marketing officer at e-mail marketing firm Accucast, formerly Socketware, Atlanta. "The DMA is a marketing organization, and authentication is never coming from the marketing side of the house."


Also, the DMA's Council for Responsible Email released "Email Delivery Best Practices for Marketers and List Owners," an update of guidelines introduced two years ago.


"We want to remind and update marketers on the simple and cost-efficient steps they can take to help assure and optimize the delivery of their e-mail communications," said Michael Della Penna, chief marketing officer at Epsilon Interactive and chairman of the council. The best practices include:


· Give recipients specific information about the nature and frequency of e-mails they will receive. "The more specific the information about the type of offer or product, the better," according to the report.


· Develop flexible online preference centers and/or registration pages where e-mail subscribers can choose what information they need or want.


· Encourage customers and prospects to add the marketer's legitimate sending address to their personal approved list or address book.


· Obtain permission for wireless domains carefully. The CAN-SPAM Act has strict guidelines on commercial wireless messaging, and the Federal Communications Commission and DMA maintain wireless domain suppression lists.


· E-mails should be relevant to the recipient and contain no objectionable content.


· The marketer's brand should be prominent in the "from" and subject lines.


· Register for all ISPs' "feedback loops" to identify high complaint e-mail campaigns and message streams from their IP addresses.


For a copy of the best practices, visit: www.the-dma.org/antispam.


Editor in chief Tad Clarke contributed to this report.


Visit blog.dmnews.com for more updates from DMA·05


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