Bolstering Authentication in the Direct Marketing Community

Posted by Matt Blumberg 

Back in 2005, when commercial emailers started adopting authentication en masse, the Direct Marketing Association stuck its neck out a bit and took a leadership position by requiring that all of its member companies authenticate their email.

Of course, this was much easier said than done. First, marketers found authentication confusing and weren’t sure exactly what standards to implement or how to do it from a technical standpoint, or how to ensure comprehensive enterprise-wide authentication across all outbound email servers, including those of vendors and partners. And then, for the DMA, tracking compliance was nearly impossible in a comprehensive way, although secret shopping and spot checking have been producing positive results since authentication became de rigeur (apparently, I am feeling very French today).

In my role as chairman of the DMA’s Interactive Marketing Advisory Board I saw a great opportunity to use Return Path’s Sender Score technology to help solve both of these problems. The result is the soon-to-be-launched Email Reputation Registry (see official announcement here). DMA member companies will be able to use the service to register their domains and IP addresses, find out if they are properly authenticating their outbound email (including corporate email), and get information to help them authenticate.

Of course, authentication is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to email best practices. So the registry will also provide DMA members with a valuable report card on their email reputation, including CAN-SPAM compliance, infrastructure security checks, and end user spam complaints.

The registry will also make it much easier for the DMA to monitor compliance among its members. Ultimately the DMA will be able to provide the email community with detailed data on how companies do and don’t comply with the protocols and offer targeted training for marketers who need assistance getting their programs up to snuff.

The registry will launch later this summer with a pilot group of companies and will be available to all DMA member companies this fall.

If you are ready to get serious about authentication now, check out our step-by-step guide to authentication. Then, be sure to register all your domains later this year. Bonne chance!

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About Matt Blumberg

Matt Blumberg founded Return Path in 1999 because he believed the world needed email to work better. Matt is passionate about enhancing the online relationship between email subscribers and marketers so that both sides of the equation benefit. It is with great pride that he has watched this initial creation grow to a company of more than 400 employees with the market leading brand, innovative products, and the email industry’s most renowned experts. Before Return Path, Matt ran marketing, product management, and the internet group for MovieFone, Inc. (later acquired by AOL). Prior to that he served as an associate with private equity firm General Atlantic Partners and was a consultant with Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. from Princeton University. You can learn much more about Matt by reading his email marketing and entrepreneurship blog Only Once – one of the first CEO blogs on the Internet. Last year he wrote a book, Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business.

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