Competence Group E-Mail February 2022

Email from a marketer’s perspective

This was the motto of the meeting of the  E-Mail Competence Group (E-Mail CG) on 3 February 2022. In the last few years, the focus of the CG was more on technical topics and strongly on the view of the receiver or ISP side. This year, we addressed the concerns of the senders. Also due to our connection to the Certified Senders Alliance (CSA), in which many of our members are involved, we would like to be more responsive to the requirements and working methods of ESPs (email service providers) and intensify the trusting cooperation between ESPs and ISPs (Internet Service Providers).


Our two speakers Andre Görmer (MAPP digital, Head of CG Email) and Anna Balmes, attorneys-at-law at the Wilde Beuger Solmeke law firm, shed light on this exciting topic not only from a technical but also from a legal perspective.

The beginnings of email marketing go back to well before the time of the Internet. In early May 1978, Gary Thuerk, marketing manager at DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation), sent out an email to promote the latest computer in the DECSystem-20 series. The target group that was interested in such devices and could be considered as buyers was very manageable, and Gary knew that this clientele was primarily found in the laboratory and much less often on the phone. So the plan matured to invite exactly this group by email to the demonstration of the new computers. Therefore, Gary sent the first – from the point of view of many recipients – spam email. From his point of view, it was an important marketing mail, since the DEC-20 represented the first large computer system into which the Arpanet software was already built.

The range was enormous: This first marketing email addressed 600 recipients, around one fifth of those who were connected worldwide via Arpanet at that time. This shows the enormous reach of email marketing. The success finally proved Gary right.  Today we can say: Email is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels, and email marketing is the most important channel for customer dialogue. The direct customer approach paired with technology makes email unique. The complete presentation of André Goermer, head of the E-Mail CG at eco, can be found in our members+ area at https://international.eco.de/topics/e-mail/downloads/ (available in German only).

The lecture was complemented by a presentation by attorney-at-law Anna Balmes, who introduced the legal basis for sending promotional emails. Advertising quickly crosses the line into unreasonable harassment. In any case, the explicit consent of the recipient must be given before an advertising email can be sent to them.

Messages via social media services such as WhatsApp, Xing or Facebook are also counted as electronic mail – the same strict requirements apply here for advertising as for email. Exceptions were pointed out as well as the possible legal consequences in case of unwanted advertising. Email marketing can be a legal minefield and needs to be carefully considered. Double opt-in as a standard is not a legal obligation but serves to protect the marketer!

This exciting presentation by attorney-at-law Anna Balmes is available in our members+ area, at https://www.eco.de/themen/email/downloads/ exclusively for eco members (available in German only).

Other topics

Another discussion on the day revolved around DMARC alignment, which is used to ensure communication from ESP to ISP and to protect brands from the misuse of their identity. How can brands be sure that their emails reach the addressees? Technically, brands must ensure that their identity is not misused, i.e. that the domains of the advertising brand used in Envelope and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) match the address shown to the recipient of the email as the sender address.
Since the vast majority of advertising brands use the ESP’s services, the From address and the physical address of the sending server no longer match. By implementing DMARC and the associated domain alignment, brands can ensure that their identity is not misused and that the receiving ISP can uniquely identify and match incoming mail.
The Certified Senders Alliance (CSA) is collaborating with the Email CG to promote this topic and offer information and guidance also on DMARC and domain alignment on their homepage.

Competence Group E-Mail February 2022