Six of the e-mail marketing trends you'll see in 2009

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With the rapid adoption of social networks and Web 2.0, marketers view e-mail through a new lens. Now an established online marketing channel, e-mail has an average ROI of nearly $40 for every $1 invested. Marketers no longer view e-mail as an acquisition-only channel and see its value as a tool for managing customer relationships and stewarding brands. The array of case studies and best practices shared by e-mail marketing vendors and their clients testify to the value of e-mail as a marketing channel and as media itself.

As 2009 looks to be another big year, I foresee six trends:

1. E-mail marketing spend will rise as dollars shift from less accountable channels. Also, macro-economic forces will allow near-term, measurable ROI and e-mail will remain the channel of choice.

2. Social networking sites will realize synergies from levels of convergence, like Internet service providers did in the early 1990s. The current social networks resemble the early closed networks of Prodigy, AOL, etc., which had limited value. The Facebooks of the world will begin opening doors in 2009, with e-mail playing a prime role.

3. Retailers will allot resources to win-back campaigns to reactivate existing customers through enhanced data intelligence. Marketers will better serve previous customers using tools allowing for intelligent re-marketing to inactive segments. Some firms have already driven significant revenue through such efforts.

4. Banners within newsletters will leverage contextual relevance and drive increased performance. E-mail ad serving technologies continue to enable programs that steward brands and enable relevant inbox experiences. In 2008, The New York Times leveraged contextual relevant advertising campaigns to great effect.

5. Stand-alone third-party advertisements will be the No. 1 method for monetizing data assets. Marketers will use intelligent e-mail ad-serving technology to deploy these messages and drive maximum revenue through minimal customer touches.

6. Brands that once used e-mail for acquisition only will see the value of e-mail as a branding tool and begin using the channel accordingly. E-Harmony saw a 38% lift in campaign awareness through integrating e-mail with other branding efforts. E-mail has matured as a channel but new, creative opportunities for its use will only be more exciting in 2009. Companies focused on building the processes and data assets to capitalize on these opportunities will continue to realize the benefits.

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