The Future Of E-mail

A report out this week claims that there has been a significant rise in spam since June. The report, released by anti-spam solution provider Postini, claims that currently nine out of 10 e-mails are spam. And I have to admit that the number of pump and dump stock scam e-mails I've received lately has dramatically increased.

I think it is clear that this type of spam is something that we will always have to deal with. But how does it affect legitimate e-mail marketers? We know about the high ROI generated by e-mail marketing. We know that retailers cite e-mail as the No. 1 demand-generation tool for the holiday season. But we also know that e-mail marketers face an uphill battle internally when fighting for budget against other marketing channels. Convincing top management to invest in e-mail when top management is bombarded with the same inbox spam as the rest of us can be a challenge.

E-mail marketers must also face the challenge of new and different interactive channels and how they interact with each other. How does e-mail fit in with RSS and search? How do these other channels support and integrate with each other to provide the best overall strategy for the business? Where are we going to find the uber-interactive strategists that will manage this process and provide a holistic approach to marketing? And how does all of it fit within the context of a changing Web landscape and the growth of social networks?



All of these questions will be the focus of next week's E-mail Insider Summit. A year ago at this time, the problem was getting the positive story of e-mail marketing out there. Tremendous work has been done in this area, including the launch of the E-mail Experience Council. But since, as they say, only the paranoid survive, I think 2007 will be the year where we closely examine all our assumptions about e-mail. Interactive marketing is facing the biggest challenges and greatest opportunities in its existence. All of the key indicators that we have been promised over the years are here. Broadband is ubiquitous. Females are online in as many numbers as males. People not only feel safe buying online, the practice has become a habit. Other marketing channels such as television, radio, and print keep losing audiences to online activities.

The Web 2.0 world is upon us. If e-mail is to survive this transition, the notion of e-mail as a marketing/communications channel needs to be fully examined to make sure that e-mail is relevant and integrated into the lives of those it is meant to influence. Next week marks the first step in that examination. I look forward to seeing you at the conference.

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