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Compliance = Reputation = Deliverability = Profits

This week I had the pleasure of attending Marketing Sherpa’s Email Summit in Miami, Florida. I’m always looking to expand my knowledge of the online marketing industry, and this was my first chance to attend an Email Summit. I knew there would be a lot to learn as the attendee list included people from many of the large ESP’s, and strategy, implementation and email tracking providers.

As I moved from session to session and spoke to people in the tradeshow booths, the industry’s continuing move from spam filter avoidance techniques to a reputation and permission based email world was apparent. It was on the minds of many of the speakers for the breakout sessions as well.

As speaker after speaker addressed issues of compliance, email reputation, and the effect of reputation upon the deliverability of campaigns, I jotted this note:

Compliance = Reputation = Deliverability = Profits

While that might seem elementary to some people, for me the flow of that process really became clear at this event. So often we deal with these issues in piecemeal at our jobs, to get the chance to think about the process from start to finish is a luxury. It helped me to see an integrated whole constructed out of the various pieces of the compliance puzzle.

Compliance

We’ve talked about it before, but I can’t overstate the importance of making sure you have a compliance program in place. You need something formal, written, complete, and with mechanisms in place to make sure it’s followed.

Solid compliance includes making sure your unsubscription process is working perfectly, at all times. We recently added the services of UnsubCentral (www.unsubcentral.com) to our compliance program in order to make sure that we were perfect in this area. We’ve always handled our own unsubcription process and suppression lists, but it’s not our primary business, so we decided that outsourcing that function suited our needs. As the company’s General Counsel, it gives me a better level of comfort that our processes would always be operational and be found reasonable by the FTC should the need ever arise.

Reputation

Even when you are completely in compliance, your reputation can suffer due to the actions of renegade affiliates, and other factors beyond your control. In extreme cases you can even find yourself blacklisted due to the actions of others. You need to be paying attention to your email reputation, because more and more, it’s the trigger that will determine whether your emails end up in the junk box or the inbox at the major ISPs.

Stay on top of your reputation by learning how to use some of the major spam lists to determine if you’re showing up there. It’s some time intensive work and requires commitment to monitor regularly, but you want to know if there’s a problem out there before it becomes severe. To assist us in the process we also just added the services of Lashback (www.lashback.com). They utilize a proprietary database that helps a company to monitor and resolve issues that affect online email reputation. Again, as the company lawyer, it gives me comfort knowing that we have the extra protection in place of having an independent third party monitoring our compliance and reputation in the real world.

Deliverability

Over and over at the Summit I heard people talking about deliverability rates. More important than the number of emails you send is to make sure those emails are ending up in inboxes. And if you’re in compliance and operating with a solid compliance program, and you’re monitoring and protecting your email reputation, then you’re a long way towards maximizing your deliverability. If you’re not doing those things right now, doing them will absolutely drive up the performance of your email campaigns.

Profits

This is everyone’s favorite subject, and an increase in profits is the natural result of an increase in deliverability. After attending Marketing Sherpa’s Email Summit, the Compliance = Reputation = Deliverability = Profits equation has become very clear to me.

Come back to the iLegal column every week as we get specific about the rules, regulations, laws and trends that affect the online advertising industry. Each week we discuss important legal issues, talk about how to avoid the pitfalls, and cover the breaking legal and regulatory advertising industry news.

Legal Disclaimer: Information conveyed in this column is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. These materials do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Digital Moses, and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date. The column is provided for "information purposes" only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." This information is not intended to substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. No person should act or rely on any information in this column without seeking the advice of an attorney.

Mark Meckler is the General Counsel for Unique Leads, Inc., and Unique Lists, Inc.

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