No wonder email users view the contents of their inbox with a "guilty until proven innocent" attitude. What's a well-meaning Internet marketer to do? Focusing on privacy and trust will help build your credibility and reputation in the inbox. With a few simple steps, you can separate yourself from the cast of shadowy figures in your recipient's inbox to become someone they have confidence in.
Authenticate Your Email
Email authentication protects your brand and shields you from deceptive practices. It is also the first step in building your identity as a reputable mailer. When you authenticate your messages on the domain level, recipients have provable information that you are a trusted sender.
There are three protocols for doing this: Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and the Sender ID Framework (SDIF). SPF automatically verifies sender IP addresses and SDIF verifies domains. DKIM puts a digital signature on a message that marks the sender as responsible for the message during its delivery process. As a result, you send messages with signatures on them that verify their safety, building both receiver and ISP confidence and trust.
Protect Your Data
A basic level of data security is essential for all online operations. Email is no exception. If someone hacks into your database and steals your email addresses, customer profiles or customers personal information, your good reputation may meet an untimely death. To prevent that, encrypt data and regularly audit your IT system for vulnerabilities. Give only select people access to the personal information in your database; authenticate them for username and password before they access that data. Have a tried-and-tested plan in place for minimizing the impact of data theft if it does happen.
Practice Data Stewardship
In addition to safeguarding your data, you should tend to it with care. Complete or delete information and email addresses that you cannot verify. Collect, use and distribute personal information only when it is relevant and timely for your purposes. Keep personal information only as long as you need it. Note that updated, accurate email lists are also crucial for your reputation with ISPs.
Make the process transparent by sharing in your Privacy Statement how long you will keep information, how you use it and with whom you share it. Make it easy for people to give you feedback about your privacy practices.
Privacy is Good Business
In the world of email, your sending reputation has more influence on deliverability than your content. And when you deliver more emails, your ROI will flourish. The privacy measures mentioned above play an integral part. Email authentication helps your domain and IP range develop a good reputation with ISPs. Data stewardship and protection, as well as participation in organizations that further online privacy, will make you more credible to your customers. All of these factors contribute to a good reputation -- and a sound business proposition. If you do it right, you can pull yourself out of the spam can forever.