In my regular Email Insider columns, I try to suggest ways to improve individual email marketing results but also to help email gain the recognition it deserves within your company and in the larger business world.
Sometimes, this means emailers themselves need to treat the channel with more respect. This led to my argument earlier last year that marketers should stop saying "blast" when referring to an email campaign, newsletter or message.
A few commenters in other forums thought that discussion was a waste of time, given the many challenges email faces today from rising volume, the impact of social media, spam filters and the like.
Yes, we have bigger fish to fry. But I also believe that casual references like this keep email sequestered in management minds as a non-strategic, low-cost marketing channel.
I hope I've shown through my columns that email not only drives revenue but also contributes to solving business challenges and meeting growth goals throughout the company, far beyond the marketing department.
However, management won't see this (and more importantly, grant the budget resources to make it happen) as long as we keep thinking in "blast" mode.
Moving Beyond the Arguments
To change that mindset, we as professional email marketers need to work out a set of generally shared perceptions that change our approach to email.
This can create the rising tide that lifts the email boat at more companies, which can lead to greater respect for email.
But what are those issues? I can't think of a single issue on which 100% of emailers agree, except perhaps that "email works." Heck, we can't even agree on the fundamental notion that you need consent before you start emailing someone.
In the last few years, many in the industry have argued over a basic set of issues at conferences, on blogs, in online communities and on discussion lists. As much as anybody, I'm
probably guilty of starting or continuing some of these passionate debates:
It's easy and fun to debate these tactical issues with the smartest people in this industry. However, it is time to move forward, to channel our collective voices and reach some consensus.
So, What are the Strategic Industry Issues?
If the industry were to hire a lobbyist or strategic PR firm, on which topics would they tell us to focus our conversations? My guess is we'd have some core message platforms whose focus would differ based on the target audiences, such as:
Corporate management is probably our most important
audience. These folks control the resources we so desperately need -- but are also the first ones to say "Just send more email."
If we can change corporate managers' mindset, they will in turn hold their email marketers accountable for maximizing the ROI from email.
Therefore, we should focus our energies and conversations on the issues that will help make email marketing a communications channel that both recipients and senders value:
What are your hot-button issues for 2010? Do you agree with any that I've suggested? Or, are there more critical topics?
If we can reach a consensus on even one, we can use it to help email advance as both a marketing channel and a business tool. Keep the conversation going by adding your comments below and via Twitter, email forums, blogs and conferences.
Until next time, take it up a notch! And happy New Year -- 2010 is going to be a great year for email marketing.