Redefining Spam: The need for Trust and Relevance in Email Marketing

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Spammer is just about the worst name you can call a legitimate online marketer, or use to refer to an organization's e-mail marketing tactics, but what do consumers actually perceive as Spam?

A recent independent study on consumer email attitudes commissioned by GOT Corporation has revealed that consumers are now able to look at their inbox and immediately determine what is Spam and what is not - and to them, e-mails that are not personally relevant are Spam. The study found that 84.4 percent of respondents preferred not to open e-mail from a sender they did not recognize, and 82.6 percent were discouraged from opening an e-mail that was not relevant to them.

These statistics show that a change in the definition of Spam is now needed. Previously, email that was not requested was considered Spam, so marketers focused on permission marketing - touting their opt-in and privacy practices. According to the new definition, e-mails that are not relevant to the consumer are considered Spam.

However, two-thirds of respondents read the marketing email they receive, so savvy consumers have seemingly developed an internal filter to censor what marketing e-mail is trust-worthy and relevant enough to open, and what messaging is not.

This is good news indeed for legitimate email marketers investing in one-to-one e-mail marketing technology that builds trust and creates relevance (and relevance simply means emails the consumer actually wants) - the key ingredients in quality e-mail.

Online, trust starts when a consumer first opts-in and gradually builds over time as the buyer and seller's relationship strengthens. For a marketer, this means constantly reinforcing the identity and credibility of your company with every email communication.

Relevance is all about creating respect. Online, respect is honoring the consumer's opt-in preferences and always keeping the context of the moment in mind, understanding full

well that what a subscriber deems relevant today will change tomorrow.

It has taken a while, but 2006 finally marks the year when both buyers and sellers are recognizing the mutual benefit of quality e-mails. Which explains the consensus among industry experts: Invest in one-to-one e-mail technology now, to implement successful, personally tailored e-mail programs that build trust and take your business to the next level.

Luc Vezina is the director of strategy and product management at GOT Corporation. He can be reached at luc@gotcorp.com .

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