Let’s allow ourselves to dream.

Imagine a world where everyone receives the email marketing messages that they want -- no more and no less. Spammers are a thing of the past, and anti-email vigilantes are no more. You’ll receive offers and information from companies that perhaps you haven’t heard of -- but the offers are for things you’re really interested in, and are passed on by people whom you trust.

What would email marketing look like in such a world? In a word: like magic. We already know that email is a powerful direct-response medium. We know that while people hate spam, they do like the email messages that they want and that speak to them. We know that email has the highest ROI of any direct-response medium, traditional or interactive. And we know, at least according to the data coming out from companies like Goodmail, that when people trust the source of an email, they are much more likely to open the email, respond, and convert.



In other words marketers have their dream marketing channel in front of them ready to go: one that is immediate, timely, targeted, one-to-one, permission-based, high-response, low-cost, high ROI.

As the ancient Greeks would put it: we have our ideal. But how do we reach this ideal?  I submit that it’s closer than we think. Yes, spam is a problem. Yes, email vigilantes are a problem ( I urge you to read Ken Magill’s interview with anti-spam crusader Mark Mumma -- whom I wrote about in this column a few weeks ago -- to see that the spam problem cuts both ways.)

And yes, the issue has actually gotten worse over the past six months. But I believe this is the dark before the storm. The technology continues to improve. Marketers are continuing to do better with their lists. Response to email messaging is better than ever, as marketers in the retailing space are discovering. And trusted, branded email messaging works.

Keep the ideal in mind as we navigate future waters. In the end, it will be worth it.

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