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Email deliverability: Keep your emails from getting lost in translation

Thomas Senne
Senior Director of Global Deliverability

To operate in today’s global environment, email marketers must understand not only email deliverability for U.S. subscribers, but also privacy laws and regulations affecting subscribers abroad. Most countries operate differently when it comes to regulating ISPs, privacy, promotional email and more. For example, when designing an email marketing campaign for Australians, marketers need to be sure all recipients have given explicit permission. Violation of these laws will result in fines and a very public reprimand from the Australian authorities.

Knowing how to operate on an international scale is vital — total worldwide revenue from email is expected to grow to over $12 billion by 2016 and email traffic is estimated to grow to over 192 billion emails sent per day by 2016.

Approach email marketing with a worldview

Mailers can mistakenly believe that the U.S. federal standard for sending commercial emails, CAN-SPAM, provides a sufficient base for understanding international email regulations. However, many other countries enforce much stricter laws governing permissions and what qualifies as lawful contact.

A good rule of thumb when emailing to domains outside the U.S. is that explicit permission will be required. Many email marketers incorrectly believe that transactional email is exempt from this approach, and although transactional email often fits into different legal categories, as far as receivers are concerned, all email is the same.

How to succeed at email deliverability in China

Emailing to consumers in China is a growing priority for marketers around the world, given the region's massive potential. However, marketers need to understand the country’s deliverability landscape in order to be successful.

To start with, deliverability success in China is measured in different ways than most senders are familiar with. For example, the global open rates of major ISPs are around 25 percent, but open rates in China are substantially lower. An email program with an open rate of 12 to 15 percent in China does not necessarily mean the campaign failed.

The regulations and real-world requirements for mailing to Chinese domains are also very different than those commonly used in other regions and global domains such as Yahoo, Microsoft Outlook and AOL. Filtering tends to be set up as you might have expected to see in the U.S. three to five years ago and generic messages don’t perform as well as individually relevant information, which marketers should rely on whenever possible.

Here are a few examples of how much email deliverability regulations can vary from region to region:

  • Australia: Explicit consent is a must — with strong laws regarding permission and data privacy. Australian ISPs are very responsive to consumer issues.
  • Canada: The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL for short) takes effect July 1, 2014. The full provisions will
    roll-out over the next 3 years. Explicit permission and private right of action are the most important measures.
  • France: Consent is required for emailing and French ISPs historically accept fewer connections, making email delivery times slower.
  • Germany: Strong laws requiring opt-in. If a recipient opts out of a mailing, all data must be erased from the sender’s database.
  • Hong Kong: Express consent is required and must be different from T&C acceptance. Consent must be clearly differentiated and easy to understand.

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