Balancing Stakeholder Demands in Email Marketing

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The Gist

  • Email marketing insight. Compliance with evolving privacy laws is crucial in email marketing to avoid legal repercussions.
  • Inbox provider priorities. Providers like Google and Apple emphasize user privacy and efficient email sorting, impacting email marketing strategies.
  • Subscriber preferences. Email marketing success hinges on respecting subscriber needs for permission-based, relevant and engaging content.

Email marketing is as powerful as it is complicated — and that complexity is slowly growing over time. The reason it’s so complex boils down to one simple fact: Email marketing has multiple stakeholders, each with their own agenda and priorities.

A laptop sits on a table with a blue screen displayed with multiple tan envelopes distributed against a blue background in piece about email marketing stakeholders.
Email marketing has multiple stakeholders, each with their own agenda and priorities.Dina on Adobe Stock Photos

Email marketers have the challenging job of satisfying all of those stakeholders and balancing their sometimes competing demands. Let’s talk about who each of these stakeholders are and, more importantly, what they each want from email marketers.

Related Article: The 5 Biggest Changes From a Decade of Email Marketing Change

Governments

When you think about email marketing compliance, the regulations created by governments are probably the first thing that comes to mind. The US overall has very weak anti-spam and privacy laws, which is why a growing number of states have introduced and passed privacy legislation, with California kicking off the movement with CCPA and then its followup, CPRA.

Canada’s CASL and the EU’s GDPR are modern age anti-spam and privacy laws and set much stronger standards that are in line with the expectations of today’s consumers. These laws not only set company policies for many international American brands, but they herald what a new national standard might look like in the US when we eventually move beyond the antiquated and largely ineffectual CAN-SPAM Act.

What They Want: 

While there’s a range of rules set by these laws (with US laws setting the lowest of bars), they primarily address permission, data collection and data usage. Consent and transparency are major focuses, so consumers are adequately informed and empowered to control information collected about them and control access to their inboxes.

When marketers fail to give governments what they want, they face legal action and serious fines.

Related Article: Is the Anti-Spam Law CAN-SPAM Now Meaningless?

Inbox Providers & Blocklist Operators

Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, and other inbox providers are highly aligned with consumer interests in terms of wanting protections against unwanted emails from both unknown and known senders — even from known senders to whom they gave permission.

Blocklist operators, such as Spamhaus, are also key players in policing acquisition practices, enforcing proper inactivity management, and encouraging good list hygiene. They do this through the use of pristine spam traps, typo spam traps and other tools.

What They Want:

Traditionally, inbox providers have wanted to protect their users from unwanted emails, especially malicious emails from spammers. The new joint deliverability standards announced by Google and Yahoo, which go into effect in February of 2024, are part of this long tradition. Those standards enforce spam complaint rate limits, require full email authentication, mandate list-unsubscribe headers for easy unsubscribes, and insist that unsubscribes be honored within two days.

Another central goal of inbox providers has been to help their users sort and prioritize incoming messages so they can more easily find the messages they care about most. The highly misunderstood Gmail tabs, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year, is an example of those efforts.

However, Apple, the largest inbox provider in the US, has been widening its scoop of action to include increasing the privacy of its users. For example, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection obscures the open activity of email marketers, among many other things. And Apple’s Link Tracking Protection removes some tracking parameters from emails in some instances.

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