The Carnival, the Lung of Earth, and of course football, that’s what comes to mind when we think about Brazil. However the view is slightly different from the inside, and specifically in email marketing.
In Brazilian companies, the teams in charge of email marketing are usually very limited. A single person may have to handle strategy, design, marketing offers, technical issues and basically anything related to this communication channel. That makes the communication easier as all the information is centralized and also offers the flexibility to experiment. For instance, by following best practices, we can already see some of the expected and steady results! However, most of the time the decision maker is someone else who doesn’t really pay attention to details. This is one of the common difficulties we have to face in Brazil.
There are 4 main Brazilian Internet Service Providers (ISP): Uol/Bol (up to 5% of databases), Terra (2%), IG (less than 1%) and Globo (0.5%). These ISPs offer a mailbox with their ADSL subscriptions, and that’s what most people use as their email address.
The usual global ISPs make up the largest part of the database, with 40% for Hotmail, 30% for Gmail, and 15% for Yahoo. These well-known platforms have Postmaster pages, Feedback-Loops, support teams, and even useful tools such as SNDS or Google Postmaster Tools. On the other hand, the local players have limited technical resources to deal with deliverability issues as they’re probably busy trying to block spam or other threats. I think that local ISPs should follow the lead by the larger ISPs and provide more resources for monitoring or troubleshooting as that would help increase the market maturity.
Brazil is a growing market full of opportunities with an expected growth rate of 10% for e-commerce and the retail industry for the coming years. While marketing strategies from abroad are still being adapted locally, it’s likely that we’ll also develop local strategies dedicated to the consumers of this specific market.
This goes along with the playful and experimental spirit of young Brazilians (who sometimes turn to computer hacking out of boredom).
On the challenging side, the country lacks regulations, laws, and penalties to deter companies from collaborating with spammers, or even hackers. Some can purchase databases with full user information, then go to some ESP and start to send right away. No consent is given from the recipients and how the data was initially collected also remains a mystery. We saw in the past few years several cases of databases poorly secured and were easily stolen with not much resistance. But the worst part is that many people honestly don’t know that this is a criminal practice. Some, however, know perfectly that it’s not “correct”, if not just illegal, but consider that as everybody else does it, they have no reason not to make some “business” as well. And many ESPs will tend to accept spammers as long as they’re paying.
Of course, ISPs rules, and anti-spam filters are more efficient than laws, and that’s why we can demonstrate that by following good practices (and common sense), it is possible to build a durable business. Unfortunately, many companies are not mature enough and focus only on immediate earnings, with the risk of going out of business short-term, instead of a sustainable growth of their business.
Another trend is the performance business model: the more emails are sent, the more sales are made. But it requires sending many more emails to grow sales just a little, and that affects negatively the overall deliverability. Here again, more maturity is required to realize that other models that focus on targeting, re-targeting, content personalization and ROI, are more efficient and for long-term growth — but also require more efforts.
Users are slowly starting to question and challenge these behaviors, as spam and other abuses are not considered “normal”. Reversing the trend will take time.
Associations such as ABRADI¹ and CGIBr² try to regulate the ecosystem, but in my opinion, only stricter laws with huge, deterring fines, can help the market to move in the right direction. Compared to other countries, and especially Europe’s GDPR, Brazil is still slow to catch on.
Internet users aren’t sensitized to what’s spam, or what’s phishing, and that can have catastrophic consequences for them are they’re easy to lure in. At the same time, bulk marketing is often mixed up with spam … but because it often is! Sent without consent, marketing offers are nothing more than spam.
Here’s a funny story: a few months ago, we heard of a “conspiracy theories”. A guy was saying that Hotmail was created to sell certifications and not to offer email services. Given the number of email services in the world, slandering Hotmail and with no purpose, this would have been laughable if the guy wasn’t dead serious about it. Maybe this theory is based on his frustration of not being able to deliver and he considered that SNDS, JMRP and Microsoft’s support was still not enough to solve this specific problem.
Brazil is a challenging market that is undergoing a lot of changes. Consumers will luckily become more aware, and picky, in the coming years, and that will drive the country toward new regulations and enforcement of best practices which are currently cruelly missing. Local ISPs, senders, and recipients still have a lot to learn and I’m trying to help, at my level, the industry go in the right direction.
To anyone willing to do business in Brazil long-term, my biggest advice would be to respect the consumer and show empathy towards them. Treat them well, cherish them, offer them a great experience and they will reward you!
ABRADI – Brazilian Association of Digital Services (http://www.abradi.com.br/)
CGI.BR – Brazilian committee for Internet in Brazil (http://www.cgi.br/), composed by 9 representatives from Government Sector, 1 Representative of Internet Knowledge, 3 Scientific Technological Community, 4 Third Sector and 4 Business Sector
UBE (Unsolicited Bulk Emails)
UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Emails)