The Continuing Conversation

Well, the Email Insider Summit is now officially over, but the conversation continues. The focus of the event was "E-mail in a Web 2.0" world. Quite honestly, I've never really heard the term Web 2.0 bandied about so much--but it made sense. With podcasting, social networks, RSS, search, mobile, and the like all competing for advertisers' budgets, the question of where e-mail fits into all this is important for the future of the channel. Unlike postal mail which really hasn't changed technologically since Ben Franklin, interactive marketing channels change with each new operating system. Who knows how Vista 3.0 will change the marketing landscape, and who will profit from it.

To some the Summit was a bit on the negative side, but purposefully so. Unless we examine the pitfalls, we are doomed to fall into them. There was some scary stuff from a representative of the DMA who spoke on some of the laws that are being enacted by legislators who think the Internet is a series of tubes. One attendee pointed out that the Utah and Michigan laws have a fatal flaw: one doesn't need to wait for some nefarious hacker to download a database of children's e-mail addresses. All the bad guys need to do is run their e-mail list against the database. Whatever gets removed is a child's e-mail address.

Another speaker pointed out that people have been trained to hit the "spam" button when what they really want to do is unsubscribe, because they have been warned that hitting the unsubscribe will tip spammers that their e-mail address is active. And of course as we reported last week, those in charge of e-mail marketing at large corporations face their own internal challenges, trying to convince upper management that e-mail marketing will not make them look like spammers.

But the good news was the strength of the e-mail marketing community. Direct competitors found themselves communicating about shared problems and issues. And we launched an Email Summit listserve so that the shared communication can continue. As we hoped, the Summit is evolving into an important community of e-mail marketing professionals combining forces (regardless of company affiliation) to move the industry forward. I look forward to seeing all of you at the next one.

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