Monetizing the complaint stream
What if ESPs (and ISPs, for that matter) started charging users for every complaint generated? Think of it like peak pricing for electricity. In California, businesses can opt for discounted power, with the agreement that they are the first companies shut off if electrical demand exceeds supply. What if ESPs and ISPs offered discounted hosting rates to bulk senders who agreed to pay per complaint?
I see pricing scheme something like this.
- $5.00 per FBL message.
- $50 for a hand written complaint.
- $150 for a report of a spamtrap hit.
- $500 for an ISP temporary block.
- $10K for a major blacklisting (SBL, other filtering company).
- $5K per customer if the blacklisting affects other customers’ ability to send.
ESPs could give a threshold of complaints that are covered. For instance, every per-complaint customer gets 0.05% of their total volume in free FBL complaints. Hand written complaints they get one or two every billing cycle, not to exceed 12 complaints a year. 6 spam trap hits a year. There is a bit of grace in the handling. I can think of lots of ways to make this sender friendly.
Benefits to the Sender
Good senders benefit because they get lower rates and don’t risk much in the way of complaint related expenses. They don’t have to pay that hidden compliance fee that all ESPs customers currently pay.
Senders with more aggressive email programs benefit because they’re able to shoulder the risks associated with those programs directly. The ESP has less to say about buying or renting lists because instead of the ESP paying the cost of problems, the customer assumes that cost. Even better, the sender can pass the compliance cost back onto their list vendor. Imagine being able to tell a vendor they have to discount a list based on the number of complaints or delivery problems. Instead of the vendor selling a list with no incentive for that list to perform well, the vendor now has an incentive to make sure those opt-in addresses really are opt-in.
Benefits to the ESP
The ESP benefits because no longer is their abuse and compliance desk a cost center. With the right mix of clients it may even become a profit center. Plus, the compliance desk is guaranteed to be funded at a rate that covers the work needed to maintain a reasonable delivery rate for customers. The ESP can stop spending so much time telling customers they can’t do something and more time raking in the cash.
It’s a total win for everyone.
Monetize complaints. It’s the future of email.