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Towards LGPD and Beyond – Getting Delivered

In the first post in this series about learnings from GDPR as Brazilian email marketers prepare for LGPD, we focused on acquiring new customers and prospects. Now we’ll look at approaches for existing subscribers. In Europe, senders generally took one of three routes:

  • Re-permission: Compared with previous data privacy legislation, GDPR imposed a higher duty of care. For senders using Consent as their legal basis, this meant refreshed permission would be needed for all existing address owners.
  • Privacy Notification: For senders who relied on Legitimate Interest as their legal basis, they needed to inform subscribers of the changes made to their privacy policies to achieve GDPR compliance.
  • “Blended” Approach: Some senders took a “blended” approach, using Legitimate interest for previous purchasers, with refreshed Consent being sought for the remainder of their lists.

All approaches meant good deliverability was critical. Many senders needed to email every member of their lists – at exactly the same time every other email program was doing the same thing! Any high traffic period like Black Friday/Cyber Monday sees deliverability taking a hit—even the biggest mailbox providers have finite bandwidth and processing capacity, and inbox placement is negatively impacted as a result:

GDPR was no different—as I reported in a DMA blog post last year, average spam filtering rates went up 25 percent as May 25th approached, and some individual senders saw over 90 percent of their email traffic ended up in the junk folder!

This was critical—re-permissioning campaigns failed because subscribers couldn’t respond to emails that never delivered. There was also a big implication for the privacy policy updates because of the right to be informed. There is a strong argument that if these emails fail to deliver this right has not been observed.

There would also have been a big impact on subscriber trust, with many consumers believing the senders had unilaterally changed their privacy policies without even bothering to inform the data subjects!

What steps can Brazilian senders take to avoid these pitfalls?

1. Don’t Attempt to Raise the Dead . . .

Our Frequency Matters report identified that 9 percent of a typical email list is formed of “Dead” addresses—created then abandoned. This is hardly surprising—email lists typically churn at between 25 percent to 30 percent per year, meaning average time on list is somewhere between 3 and 4 years—even for best-in-class programs.

There is little point in attempting to send LGPD email communications to these addresses—they will never respond, and they could cause significant deliverability problems. A good starting point is to carry out a bulk validation exercise using a solution like BriteVerify. In this way, the dead addresses can be identified and suppressed, before the business-critical LGPD broadcasts happen.

2.. . . Then Draw a Line in the Sand

In Europe, many senders attempted to contact every address on their database, regardless of how old they were. One of my colleagues received this re-permissioning email despite having last been to summer camp in 2002!

This was ill-advised—our Lifecycle Benchmark 2019 report showed only 31 percent of new subscribers continue to interact with an email program beyond 12 months. Data decays over time, and older addresses are more likely to either not work (point one above), or—if they do work—to complain. There is also a real possibility that some have been re-purposed as spam traps. These factors combine to have a major negative impact on deliverability, which also means good addresses get junked too!

A key principle of the new laws is “minimization”—including that personal data should only be held for as long as it is needed. Also remember the mailbox providers have far more aggressive opinions on recency—30 days in the case of Gmail! We recommend all senders should define a sensible recency threshold, and then delete older records unless there is a legal requirement to continue holding them. 

3. Know What the Mailbox Providers are Expecting from You

All major mailbox providers publish helpful bulk sender guidelines, and many of the most important recommendations are common to all of them:

  • Use active opt-in for new subscriptions
  • Provide one-click unsubscribe functionality (List-Unsubscribe)
  • Remove invalid and inactive recipients
  • Sign up to all available feedback loops
  • Authenticate using SPF, DKIM and DMARC
  • Publish meaningful reverse DNS records
  • Be consistent in use of from addresses, IP addresses, and sending domains

Detailed guidance can be found at the mailbox providers’ postmaster sites: Gmail (here); Outlook (here); and Verizon (here), as well as our excellent Marketers’ Field Guide (here). It’s all common-sense advice, and the mailbox providers are clear that having them implemented will help improve email deliverability.

4. Audit Your Reputation

It’s essential to know how mailbox providers see you as a sender. Many calculate their own versions of reputation scores, and poor scores will see senders getting blocked or junked, meaning an immediate negative impact on LGPD messaging.

One of the best-known reputation checkers is Sender Score (www.senderscore.org) where email programs can plug in an IP address or sending domain to get their current reputation score. Senders want to be in the top tier (91-100) – our recent 2019 Sender Score Benchmark report showed senders in this tier achieve average delivered rates of 91 percent, while those in the next tier down achieve 71 percent – a 20 percent variance.

Reputation is determined by factors such as: complaints; unknown users; spam traps; authentication; black-listings; and subscriber engagement. Senders who are currently scoring outside of the top tier should address these causes before they start their LGPD campaigns.

5. Get Certified

The above points explain the deliverability challenges posed during high volume periods. Fortunately, there is a solution—members of the Return Path Certification program (the red line) typically see less impact. This is because they carry a higher level of trust, and therefore benefit from better placement and faster throughput.

In Europe, Certified senders saw a pronounced benefit in the form of higher inbox placement rates, and significantly greater subscriber retention as a result. This had a major financial implication—the DMA’s Marketer Email Tracker 2019 report calculated average subscriber lifetime value at £37.32 (almost R$200!) For a sender with a 1M address list, every 1 percent increment in subscriber retention was worth ± £300K (almost R$2M!)—a strong argument for Brazilian senders to invest in their LGPD readiness.

In this post we have examined how to build a platform for successful LGPD email broadcasts. In the next article in this series we’ll consider the importance of timing—when to start sending, how to ramp up activity, and the critical importance of not relying on a “single-shot” approach.

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