Well, it's that time of year again--time to put on my best Amazing Kreskin imitation and predict the future.
But first, from the "I'm Claiming Full Responsibility Whether It's Deserved Or Not" department, this week the E-mail Service Providers Coalition announced it was changing its name to the E-mail Sender and Provider Coalition (a name obviously chosen so they wouldn't have to change the monogrammed towels) and that they would be "expanding its mission to focus not just on spam and e-mail 'threats,' but also on the benefits of e-mail marketing," according to a December 6th DMNews article. In the same article, ESPC's head Trevor Hughes said, " in 2006, I hope we can become more of a cheerleader for the e-mail channel. It's not getting its due in the marketplace. E-mail truly is the killer application."
HA! At least someone is reading my columns! You may remember my "Mad as Hell" column of Nov. 16, where I said: "Where are our trade group leaders in counteracting the negative, exaggerated stories in the media about spam? Where are the positive stories about people who find e-mail marketing to be a positive experience--one that saves trees, decreases their postal mail, and is convenient and immediate?"
Okay, on to predictions.
Prediction 1: My No. 1 prediction is that we are going to see a renaissance in e-mail marketing. There are a number of reasons I believe this is inevitable. The first is that you WILL start to see many positive stories about e-mail marketing starting to circulate in 2006. We've already begun to see this with the Wall Street Journal, and I expect that the ESPC as well as the DMA will begin focusing on consumer education in the realm of e-mail.
The second reason 2006 will be the year for e-mail marketing has to do with the 2005 M&A activity that took place in e-mail. With Digital Impact and Big Foot Interactive both swallowed up by large data companies with big clients and even bigger contracts, e-mail is going to be incorporated in a big way in their other CRM offerings.
Prediction 2: It's still too early for RSS. We may see the Year for RSS at some point, but 2006 is not it. For all the hype and press being devoted to it, it's still a geek's toy, and not for the mainstream yet. As far as its usefulness as a marketing channel goes, businesses hardly support their e-mail efforts, let alone a technology that is being used by less than 10 percent of the online population.
Prediction 3: Spam is not going away, but nobody will care. There will be great efforts to come up with technical solutions to spam, but it will always be with us. The big prediction is that people will just get used to it and consider it a part of their online universe and move on.
Prediction 4: E-mail will surpass search in the battle for marketers' hearts and minds. I think we've seen the peak of search, not that it's going away by any means. But we are going to see e-mail used by marketers that would never think of using search, as it becomes safe for the marketers to wade in the e-mail waters again.