Right off the bat, 2014 seems to be a year of great security peril. We’ve had to deal with the fallout of the Target data breach, and the news brings us a never-ending stream of stories and warnings about keeping our accounts secure.

While the Online Trust Alliance 2014 Data Protection & Breach Readiness Guide states that 2013 was a record year for data security breaches, with 740 million records being exposed, I’m betting 2014 might well top that with the extensive number of sites being compromised by Heartbleed. Personally, I’ve had to change my passwords more times than I can count this year.

While the importance of security is surely underscored by these incidents, the news hasn’t been all bad. In fact, when it comes to email security and abuse, we appear to be entering a new era where phishing exploits are drastically reduced. Recently, PayPal – one of the most-spoofed brands online – reported that suspicious email has decreased by more than 70% during 2013 with DMARC implementation. Similarly, Twitter reports that they’ve gone from seeing as many as 110 million phishing emails per day down to just a few thousand.

At Message Systems, we’re big fans of email security, and have long been proponents of email security and DMARC email implementation. (Quick aside: our software is fully compatible with double DKIM signing as required in Gmail feedback loop reporting as well.)

When it comes to DMARC, widespread industry support and adoption is key, hence we sat down with our partner and email deliverability expert, Return Path, for a quick chat about the importance of industry wide DMARC email adoption. Here’s what John Arnold, Senior Director of Product Marketing, had to say.

Looking for more resources on DMARC? Try the How DMARC Is Saving Email eBook!

How DMARC Is Saving Email

One of the positive benefits of our annual Message Systems user conference is that we get to sit down and talk with customers, partners and friends in the industry. At the last conference in San Diego back in October, John Arnold from Return Path was nice enough to share his thoughts on the state of the email industry, where we are, how we got here, and where we’re headed. We broke his interview down into a couple of short clips focused on specific subjects.

In the first one John talks about the emerging new standards around deliverability, how ISPs have changed the ways they handle incoming messages and what this means for marketers. For context, the big ISPs such as Yahoo, Google and Microsoft have moved away from trying to block spam based on message content and have adopted acceptance practices that center on sender reputation and recipient behavior – does the message get opened? Is the recipient scrolling and clicking through? John’s explains that, for Return Path, which is the leading provider of email deliverability services in solutions, these shifts in the industry are opening up new opportunities for innovation:

“With a new paradigm of inbox tracking and going through the new benchmarks that we have, such as read rate and all the different data points that come together in that customer’s inbox, there’s going to have to be another industry that grows out of that. So the innovators and the leaders in the space that ReturnPath are working with are seeing this as an opportunity to innovate, to think, to look at all of the different metrics and data points and come up with new benchmarks and charge ahead.”

Watch the second part of the interview on Challenges of Getting Into The Inbox here.

Forrester Research and Marketo join forces to bring you a webinar on the Keys to Deliverability Success! Learn about how you can automate some of the ever present challenges, including the ever changing ISP requirements.

Keys To Deliverability Success Webinar

Headlining the last day of the Interact 2013 conference was the Sponsor Panel by ReturnPath, mBlox, and Liveclicker. While one might see few stragglers wandering in to attend morning sessions on the last day of other conferences, the Sponsor Panel was almost as well attended as the ISP Panel and yielded just as many insights.  Here are some of the highlights from the panel.

sponsorpanels

Kent Ragen, Vice President, Channels, ReturnPath on Big Data

Kent observed that marketers were spending more on the content side and trying to expand data sources to make better decisions that would move email programs in the right direction. Increasingly, ReturnPath has been telling clients to send more to people who are engaged with the brand so as to maximize mindshare. The most effective marketers are using multi-channel and real-time data sets, as well as implementing well thought out streams that are based on buyer personas. In fact, there are thousands of successful and unsuccessful loyalty programs to look at and learn from. Kent also brought up the problem of phishing as a marketing problem that affects deliverability adversely. The solution? Team up with the IT team and ensure the DMARC standard is in place.

Stacy Adams, VP of Marketing, mBlox on Mobile & Push Messaging

Stacy observed that the issue with big data is siloed marketing organizations where different people own different parts of the puzzle. It is difficult to get all the data into backend systems for all the different departments to utilize, which is critical to get a complete picture of the mobile ecosystem in large brands.

Stacy suggested using email to get to people on a different device such as through a call-to-action to sign up for SMS alerts. SMS is the lowest common denominator as all phones can use SMS. Aside from one’s wallet, the most important personal item for most people is the phone. Only 56% of the population has smart phones at present – so for the other 44%, mobile messaging is exclusively about text messaging. Not surprisingly, there has been enormous growth in transactional notification through SMS. Additionally, consumers are very open to receiving SMS and push messages if the content is relevant and personalized. With push, the consumer has downloaded the app and indicated that they want push notifications ­– they are an opted-in user. It is rare for someone to delete an app because they receive too many push notifications. On the other hand, apps lacking push capabilities register far lower engagement rates than those that do. Ultimately, Stacy advised marketers not to give up on mobile if it does not work at first – just keep using the channel to see what works best.

Justin Foster, Co-founder of Liveclicker on Video in Email

Justin talked about how reducing friction between the content that people want to see and what they have to do to get it is important. Mobile devices do not allow videos to play automatically, and there are many buttons to press.

However, 30-40% more people watch videos if they are embedded, and this is something that can be achieved with the right tools and the right technique. Embedded videos play with a single tap. Shorter clips work better and the best video length is 23 seconds. Currently, there is a content production roadblock, and a need to provide enough relevant content. Marketers can engage with their database by providing advice on best practices with video, subject lines etc.

While the panelists each had specific areas of expertise which they spoke about at length during the panel discussions and debate, they all agreed on one point: responsive design is the next big thing.

sponsors
Message Systems would like to thank all our Interact 2013 sponsors!

What do we at Message Systems think the next big thing is? Why ensuring that you have a unified messaging platform in place for an effective and cost-efficient mobile engagement strategy of course! Find out more in our webinar, Your Mobile Customer Is Ready To Engage. Are You?

ProspectWebinar_Replay_160x600_102313

The Transactional Email News Digest

[UPDATE: Spamhaus is back online.]

The lead article in this week’s Transactional Email News was supposed to reference a recent article on the Spamhaus blog about the organization’s recently announced spam traps program and issues with transactional email. Yet as of press time here at the Transactional Email News world headquarters, the article isn’t available because the entire Spamhaus site is under a massive distributed denial of service (dDOS) attack. For any senders who might be adversely affected by the unavailability of Spamhaus blocking lists and services, Laura Atkins at the indispensable Word to the Wise blog has some helpful suggestions. Good luck to the Spamhaus team in getting back up and running soon.

Pitfalls of Point of Sale or Transactional Email Address Collection

Related to unavailable Spamhaus piece above: Point of sale collection of email addresses is a pretty popular way of adding to email lists. However, many marketers found themselves on the Spamhaus Black List over the holidays, as a result of POS collection and list quality issues. Due to customers providing incorrect addresses whether on purpose or by accident, businesses ended up sending large volumes of mail to spamtraps. Christine Borgia from ReturnPath warns of such pitfalls and re-emphasizes the need to confirm that such POS email addresses are accurate and that the recipients want the mail.

5 Rules for SaaS Email Marketing and Transactional Messages

The 5 rules for email marketing and transactional messages may seem like common sense:

  • Get Delivered
  • Get to the Inbox
  • Get Opened
  • Get Read
  • Get ‘Em to Take Action

However, this article provides in-depth actionable tips and insight to optimizing content for best results. Here’s a preview in images.

asana-is-awesome
Confirmation Opt-in Checklist
inbox-diagram
Optimize Emails on Different Platforms
serps.com-upgrade-cta-in-each-transactional-email
Call To Actions in Emails

Improve customer service & cut communications costs with Transactional Messaging

Last but definitely not least on the list are a couple of webinars of note.

First up from Tor Flatebo at govDELIVERY is a presentation targeted at government organizations looking to cut costs and improve customer service through transactional messaging. Sign up for the webinar if you are interested to learn more!

gov-delivery

Second, our own Mike Hillyer, Senior Director of Global Solution Consulting helmed a deliverability webinar in conjunction with David Daniels, known email extraordinaire, CEO of The Relevancy Group and former VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester.  Watch the Six Secrets of Successful Sending webinar to learn how to increase your email deliverability today!

6 Secrets of Successful Sending

 

Think email deliverability is an obscure concern? Think again: Globally, email deliverability rates, the rate at which emails actually arrive at their intended inboxes, is woefully low. ReturnPath found that nearly 25% of commercial emails never make it to their destinations, an alarming percentage that increased quite a bit in the second half of 2011. MarketingCharts tells the whole story.