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Guaranteeing authenticity helps avoid false spam

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Authentication services are the buzzword of the year, and for good reason, explained Robb Wilson, VP-deliverability for e-mail marketing software and service provider Lyris Technologies, Berkeley, Calif. As marketers realize that end users are increasingly skeptical about the mail they receive-a recent Pivotal Veracity study found that 54% of marketers had their e-mails falsely identified as spam-guaranteeing e-mails come from where they actually do may be the only answer.

BtoB:What impact will authentication have on the b-to-b marketing world?

Wilson: I think it impacts b-to-b marketing in the near term by imposing some standards and technology requirements that companies are going to have to abide by. That said, when you think about technology, large companies tend to move very slowly. There are some companies out there still running Windows 95. With the case of a technology [like authentication such as Sender ID and DomainKeys], where the ISPs are adopting it so quickly, it’s going to force a lot of companies to upgrade sooner than they would like. A lot of the marketing and e-mail software companies such as Microsoft Corp. won’t release, for example, a patch for Exchange that includes domain keys. Companies are going to have to upgrade to the new version of the software. Those companies that don’t like to take on the newest version will find their messages might not get through. The good news for b-to-b, however, is that b-to-b marketers don’t have that many e-mail addresses on their lists that are from AOL.com, Hotmail or MSN. Although b-to-b marketers are going to be a lot slower about adopting [these technologies], the effects of not getting delivered are not going to be as serious for them right away because their

stuff is still going to get through. B-to-b marketers are not going to experience issues until the adoption [of authentication systems] by their customers starts to pick up.

BtoB:Will Sender ID and similar technologies help reduce spam today?

Wilson: The real question should be will it reduce the noise. I did an interesting study at another company. [The study] determined that people will have a limited number of relationships that can be considered commercial-between seven to 10. Beyond that, if you want to have a relationship with a customer or prospect you have to bump another one of those companies off the list. And the noise factor [of spam] is reducing the number of relationships people will have with commercial interests.

Sender ID will reduce the noise. But what will probably have a bigger impact on e-mail marketing is a marketer’s adoption rate of dynamic content and personalization. Both make messages more relevant for end users. I always wondered if the spam issue was clouding our vision and not letting us see the truth: How relevant is the stuff we’ve opted in to? SPF or DomainKeys alone won’t solve the problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.

—Karen Bannan

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