Schwedelson: Move to Text E-Mail Hurts Marketers

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ORLANDO, FL -- The major ISPs' move to text instead of html e-mails is harming marketers, said Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president of list brokerage firm Worldata, at the Annual Catalog Conference here yesterday.

"We're entering a text world, which is terrible for us as marketers," Schwedelson said.

Consumers increasingly cannot view part or all of their messages because images will not display. In the case of Google's GMail, only relevant text ads from advertisers in its AdSense program will display. So graphics and information within e-mails -- even if the recipient has opted in for the message -- may not display.

While Google's GMail and MSN's Hotmail are the biggest "culprits" of not displaying images in e-mails, Yahoo is moving to a similar system, Schwedelson said.

However, there is one way to get around the GMail problem. Marketers should tell their subscribers to choose "display images" in their GMail accounts, allowing them to receive images in e-mails from certain domains they choose.

Schwedelson also reminded marketers to include a link with a message at the top of every e-mail along the lines of, "If you can't see this message, please click here." But do not just include the link. Track the number of clicks it receives.

"Let's say you get 500 clicks on that link, and six months from now, you get 5,000. The more that number goes up, the more people aren't viewing your message," Schwedelson said.

Schwedelson also urged marketers to comment on the update to the CAN-SPAM law, including the proposal to shorten the time that a sender has to honor a recipient's opt out request from 10 to three business days.

"It is very difficult to get it done in 10 days. Three days is going to be literally impossible to adhere to," Schwedelson said.

He also recommended that for marketers to stay on ISPs' white lists, they need to reduce their bouncebacks. If an e-mail has bounced back after four times or more, the marketer should not send it again. The ISPs may view this as spam and put the company on their black lists, Schwedelson said.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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