The evolution of e-mail marketing

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Joe Colopy
Joe Colopy

Mark Twain once wrote, “History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” His quote definitely rings true in the online mar­keting world. In the early days of the Web, marketing practices closely mimicked those of the print world, before evolving to fully realize the unique benefits of life online.

In the mid-1990s, Web sites debuted to the excitement of marketers everywhere. Online pioneers modeled their Web sites after the print world — a world they were most familiar with. Unfortunately, early sites had many of the limitations of print media including static content with little interaction with their audience.

Over time, Web sites evolved beyond their stagnant origins to become more dynamic, often integrating user-generated content with other Web services. These advancements, often called “Web 2.0,” were significant steps forward for online engagement.

Of course, these developments did not happen immediately. It took time for the sites to advance beyond the limitations of the print world.

E-mail marketing is no different. In the beginning, e-mail marketing meant simple one-way campaigns to lists of e-mail addresses — regardless of demographics, relevance or timing considerations. Marketers talked at their customers, instead of engaging them in an ongoing conversation. The efforts mir­rored what took place in the print world.

Today, we know that e-mail marketing is much more powerful. E-mail marketing 2.0 empowers marketers to establish a relevant, ongoing relationship with their audience.

As user-generated content helps engage Web site visitors, e-mail marketing now dramatically increases relevancy by using intelligent, automated, transactional and time-series messaging. These techniques allow marketers to connect with the right recipient, with the right message, at the right time, mul­tiple times. As more e-mail service providers offer more straightforward automated and triggered messaging options, migrating to e-mail marketing conversation will become possible for even novice marketers.

The next generation of e-mail marketing opens up an exciting new world. Marketers can now stay relevant with their audiences, increase mindshare and drive revenue. This has always been the “Holy Grail” of market­ing, even before Mark Twain's time.


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