Marketers Should Protect The Customer Journey

If the predictions ring true, 2015 is the Year of the Customer. Thanks to an increasing amount of data and tools, marketers can map the customer journey like never before, and make better decisions to truly deliver a seamless, 1:1 experience across multiple touchpoints.

But too often, marketers caught up in delivering that experience forget to prioritize the fundamental pillar of all successful customer relationships: trust.

Marketers and security professionals aren’t often mentioned in the same breath, but in the “Year of the Customer” both need to collaborate to protect customers and secure brand reputation.

Potentially fraudulent or suspicious messages make up 9% of emails sent by the world’s biggest brands, and these messages threaten to derail the customer experience. Take these stats into account:

● 97% of people globally can’t correctly identify a sophisticated phishing email. [Source: Intel]
● Over half of Internet users get at least 1 phishing email per day. [Source: Phishing.org]
● Email fraud has up to a 45% conversion rate. [Source: Google]
● 549 brands were targeted by phishers in Q4 14. [Source: APWG]
● Customers are 42% less likely to interact with a brand after being phished or spoofed. [Source: Cloudmark]
● 70% of email fraud comes from domains that aren’t owned by brands. [Source: Return Path]

Customers who mistakenly engage with a phishing email won’t blame the criminals responsible, they’ll blame the brand.

Rather than arguing whose problem it is, CMOs and CISOs need to unite their organizations to work together to help protect the one thing they both have in common – the customer. Security and marketing working together can create a better customer experience by:

1. Working together to assess email fraud implications.

Marketing and security organizations should work together on creating an email domain governance and policy. They can audit and track sending domains, create agreed upon security authentication policies, and implement DMARC records to get more visibility into what email is authenticating, what email is not, and why.

Email marketers can still focus on the deliverability and reputation aspect for higher inbox placement rates. Security organizations benefit from a better view of sending domains being used and more visibility into how the bad guys are impersonating their brand. This can be useful in understanding what lookalike domains should be registered in defense, for example.

2. Working together to understand security failures.

When an authentication policy fails, finding the reason why can be difficult. A partnership between security and marketing would be able to determine if authentication failures are occurring on legitimate email versus because of a change in a sending domain or sending IP address. Marketers are often fearful to use DMARC to block phishing emails, since one minor incorrect update to a record can cause emails to fail. By partnering with security, marketers can focus on marketing, and security can focus on security.

3. Connecting the customer dots.

Marketing and security can also work together to connect the cost of phishing and spoofing and customer trust. For example, in my last column, I discussed a customer that was able to look at call center data and tie back to phishing attacks. There’s a clear cost associated per phone call that security organizations can tie back to cost savings after implementing solutions like DMARC. Additionally, marketing and security can create a self service model for customers to identify legitimate emails from phishing emails. Not only will the 97% that can’t identify a phishing message benefit, it can further reduce call center traffic and create a seamless customer journey.

More importantly, the customer experience from email is perhaps the most important to protect. Email marketing drives 222% ROI for businesses and is the preferred method for customers to receive information from brands they love. By working together, marketing and security can ensure email is still a trusted channel that performs.

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