2020 Prediction: Customer Security Will Be a Top Business Priority

Posted by Guy Hanson 

Over the past month, we’ve been elaborating on the predictions we made for the year 2020 in our eBook, Email 20/20. Today, I want to zero in on the prediction that in 2020, customer security will become a top priority for businesses across industries.

Customers are increasingly aware of cyber threats and are now making buying decisions based on how securely companies protect their data. By 2020, we expect customers won’t even consider companies who are not openly prioritizing their protection, particularly in the email channel.

The impact of trust on email marketing
Establishing and maintaining trust with your email subscribers is critical to the performance of email marketing campaigns.

According to the DMA’s Consumer Email Tracking Study, between 15 and 20 percent of users will mark an email as spam if they had a bad customer experience, the brand has experienced negative publicity in the press, or the user has generally lost confidence in the brand.

When a well-known brand falls victim to a highly publicized security breach, email marketing performance suffers—a lot.

Three key examples
If a subscriber doesn’t trust the brand they are engaging with, they will be more likely to delete legitimate emails from the sender or mark them as spam. Such negative user behaviors will impact mailbox provider filtering decisions. Take a look at these three examples:

Adult dating sender

Screen-Shot-2016-07-17-at-12.04.54-PM-300x85 (1)

This well-known facilitator of illicit affairs had a highly publicized data breach in Q3 2015. Since then, average filtering rates by the major mailbox providers have increased by 50 percent, while average read rates have reduced by 50 percent.

Pub and restaurant sender

Screen-Shot-2016-07-17-at-12.03.36-PM-300x79 (1)

This well-known pub chain operator was attacked at the end of November 2015. During the following two-month period, average filtering rates increased by 15 percent and average read rates dropped by 20 percent as a result.

Telecommunications sender


This well-known telecoms operator was attacked in October 2015. During the following two-month period, average deleted rates increased by 150 percent, while corresponding read rates went down by 10 percent.

What’s the impact in terms of revenue?
Lost trust not only damages a company’s email marketing program but also impacts its bottom line. According to Experian’s Quarterly Email Benchmark Report, the average value of each email delivered at $0.08. If we assume a brand’s subscribers receive an email twice a week and we take the smallest impact from the above examples (10 percent), we can calculate a monthly revenue shortfall of ± $70K per 1M customers.

Still not convinced? Consider the following:

  • 70 percent of consumers can correctly identify retailers that have suffered an attack (Source: Stax)
  • 42 percent of consumers are less likely to interact with your brand after being phished (Source: Cloudmark)
  • 15 percent of consumers say they stopped shopping at breached retailers altogether (Source: Stax)

As you can see the cost of doing nothing about customer security, especially when it comes to the email channel, is significant. Companies need to move fast to protect themselves against this clear and present danger.

Want more predictions like these? Check out our eBook, Email 20/20.

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About Guy Hanson

Guy is a passionate advocate for intelligent use of customer data to drive responsive email programs. With a knowledge base spanning the best part of two decades, he is globally recognized as an email expert and thought leader. Most recently at Return Path, Guy led a global consulting team, and worked with a broad range of world-famous clients across 5 continents to improve their email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue. Now blazing a new trail as an independent consultant, Guy is continuing to explore his passion for email and data – and sharing his knowledge – through appearances at flagship events, providing training, and regular fresh new thought leadership Outside of work, Guy has had long-term involvement with both the DMA and IAB email councils, been a regular contributor to the industry press, and is a 3-time finalist as data storyteller of the year!

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