Finally, Some Good News

You may have missed it because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but we finally saw some positive news about e-mail marketing in the mainstream press. On Nov. 23, the Wall Street Journal published an article by Ellen Byron called "E-mail Ads Grow Up." The article focused on the positive financial rewards of using e-mail as a marketing channel, especially for retailers. For instance, it mentioned the Gap's decision to forgo celebrity-filled TV ads this holiday season to focus on magazine and online marketing channels, especially e-mail. According to the article, "retailers are crediting e-mail marketing with being the most immediate, versatile and one of the cheapest forms of advertising."

Regarding the effectiveness of e-mail, the article quoted a Forrester Research study of 137 online retailers that showed the open rate to be 33 percent, the click-through rate to be 11 percent, and the average order rate to be 4.3 percent..

This is great news; the article started really positively as well by talking about how much people like to receive e-mail marketing. There was a profile of a 31-year-old event planner who subscribes to e-mail advertisements from 20 different retailers and calls the e-mails her "guilty pleasure."



So why aren't more efforts being done to get stories like this out there? I posed that question today to Trevor Hughes, executive director of the E-mail Service Providers Coalition. He contacted me in response to my "Mad as Hell" article in order to let me know all the things that the ESPC has been up to--quite a lot, it turns out. As Trevor said, the ESPC is the only trade organization on the ground fighting in Utah and Michigan, and it's clear it is leading the charge as far as trade organizations go when it comes to legislation in the e-mail space. (More on my interview with Trevor in a future article).

Trevor admitted that advocacy and consumer/marketer education has not been a high priority for groups like the ESPC, who have had their hands full dealing with the problems of false positives, legislation, and the technical authentication issues that have kept them busy for the last three years--but promises that more attention will be paid to this issue in 2006.

Let's hope the industry can wait that long.

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