In October the US Direct Marketing Association (“DMA”:http://www.the-dma.org) made “an announcement”:http://www.the-dma.org/cgi/dispannouncements?article=373 that makes it mandatory for their members to use “e-mail authentication”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_Authentication for marketing email. As with the Canadian Marketing Association (“CMA”:http://www.the-cma.org), the DMA counts the major marketers and brands as members so this announcement is a big deal.
Email authentication is all about enabling recipient email servers to verify that email messages are actually coming from the senders noted within an email, like in the From and Reply To fields. The two main forms of email authentication are IP-based and cryptographic. The main reason for using email authorization is to decrease spam. Many recipient email servers will automatically send non-authenticated email to the junk/spam folder, or worse, delete them. For marketers, those companies that send marketing email, authentication helps ensure deliverability to the inbox. It also protects their brands from fraudulent use in the form of “spoofing” as is the case with a lot of spam and most “phishing”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing attempts.
There are different email authentication standards such as “SenderID”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sender_ID (think Microsoft Hotmail) or “DomainKeys”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_keys (think Yahoo). The DMA edict does not recommend any specific authentication technology, just that members use it.
In most cases a marketer will need to work with their email vendor or partner to ensure the IP address(es) and domain(s) used in marketing email are registered with the proper authorities. If you haven’t already done so, check if your email marketing solutions and marketing messages use authentication.
If you want more info on this topic from the DMA “anti-spam page”:http://www.the-dma.org/antispam.
You can also access a related post I wrote in May called “Deliverability Biggest Challenge For Canadian Email Marketers”:http://www.onedegree.ca/2005/05/10/deliverability-biggest-challenge-for-canadian-email-marketers.
If you have any questions or would like more information on this topic please post a comment and I will provide an answer or you can “email me”:http://www.onedegree.ca/contributors/stefan_eyram.