Can Consumers Be Persuaded to Trust E-mail?
By Alan Chapell
As we all know, spam continues to be the scourge of the e-mail marketing business. It frustrates consumers because it clogs their inboxes with useless and fraudulent messages. And it creates a different headache for marketers. Spam harms consumer trust in e-mail as a medium, and that means fewer people are willing to provide their e-mail addresses to any organization—even those trying to market the right way.
The direct marketing industry has provided consumers with many tools to help fight spam—filters, Sender ID, etc. But we haven't always done enough to help consumers determine which Web sites will use the information they provide in a responsible way.
Personalization and relevance are effective, albeit underused, tools for ensuring e-mail messages are wanted. But that's only part of the story. How does a company convince consumers that signing up for an opt-in e-mail list won't compromise their privacy or security? This becomes particularly challenging when trying to obtain information from people who have happened upon a Web site for the first time.
In late July, TRUSTe announced it was launching a new seal program—the E-mail Privacy Seal—aimed at boosting consumer trust in firms' opt-in e-mail lists. The program is simple: TRUSTe checks out a company, makes sure it complies with a set of standards, then awards it a "We Don't Spam" seal. It also backs the seal with monitoring and dispute-resolution services.
Of course, the devil is in the details. By signing up for the program, a company must meet a number of requirements, including: