We asked six thought leaders to give their prognosis for what’s ahead in e-mail marketing:
Deirdre Baird, CEO, Pivotal Veracity: The cost of e-mail – at once a boon to its use as well as the bane of its existence – will be redefined not as the low cost of deploying e-mail but the high cost of being unable to communicate via e-mail. As eventually happens with all market economies, and barring artificial price barriers, I believe the customer will lead the way by dictating who can and cannot communicate with them.
The overzealous marketer who sends the same customer dozens of product promos a month (because it’s cheap and because he can) will find the opportunity permanently revoked via the simple click of an unsubscribe button.
Simultaneously, the overzealous Internet service provider who thinks it knows better than its own customers what that customer does and does not want to receive may find that what its customers really want is an ISP, not the e-mail version of George Orwell’s Big Brother.
Christopher Doran, vice president of marketing, Manticore Technology: With the online marketing, Web analytics and e-mail space maturing, we think consolidated product offerings are right around the corner. We have seen partnerships and alliances forming. These will strengthen and develop until customers can meet all their online marketing needs from one vendor.
There are tremendous synergies to be had from complete integration of Web analytics, e-mail and online marketing applications.
David Geller, president/CEO, WhatCounts Inc.: I will boldly predict that by next year, spam and deliverability will be non-issues for legitimate permission-based marketers. We expect a number of experienced e-mail marketers will then move to inhouse systems because the ROI will be more effective than paying the ongoing ASP fees.
Additionally, we expect more demand for integration and automation of e-mail services and applications into core business functions like content publishing, CRM, inventory management, circulation systems in the publishing world and billing systems. Once spam is beaten, growth in the e-mail sector will again be explosive.
Jane Kaiser, president, Eclipse Direct Marketing LLC: The next stage or requirement in e-mail marketing is for marketers to continually monitor both the list source and their delivery engines. Ultimately, e-mail will need to be further integrated into a multichannel approach that coordinates the same message offline and online with pre- or post-campaign postal mailings and lead generation programs.
Many major mailers are sitting on the sidelines until they can be assured that their online acquisition initiative is deliverable, trackable and scalable to meet their required ROI. With a balanced marketing plan on- and offline, the marketer can fully realize the benefits of acquiring new customers across all channels.
Tim Marusich, vice president, e-mail marketing and general manager, BlueHornet: I think we’ll see much more interest in online loyalty programs. When combined with double opt-in permission and other creative marketing tools, online loyalty programs are a great way to grow databases effectively.
There’s also a lot of buzz about multichannel marketing. Businesses are beginning to discover how some of today’s advanced e-mail technology can improve their multichannel marketing. I predict this trend will continue to grow throughout the industry as more companies broaden their perception of e-mail as a cost-effective way to leverage their multichannel data.
Mark Organ, CEO, Eloqua Corp.: The next stage in e-mail and online marketing is tight coordination with other marketing media. Right now, e-mail and other online marketing techniques are somewhat out of favor as marketers fret about declining response rates. But I think this is just a phase that will pass.
In the evolution of marketing technology, there is an initial period of elation because of the high response rates driven by the novelty of the new medium, followed by depression once competition increases and the novelty wears off. This is followed again by a steady increase in marketer satisfaction as the use of the medium is optimized standalone and as part of the overall marketing mix.
We have seen this pattern with nearly every marketing medium, from paper fliers, to radio, television and guerrilla marketing techniques. Pundits have prognosticated the death of radio advertising since the invention of television advertising. Yet even in the age of the Internet, radio ad revenue is at an all-time high, as marketers have identified how best to use it in their overall marketing approach.
So I believe the situation will go with e-mail and online. We have seen innovative marketers generate astounding results by tightly coordinating e-mail messaging with direct mail, voice mail and online personalization in a precise pattern. We also have seen great results in using e-mail mainly for maintaining relationships with prospects and customers for a low cost, while using other media like in-store, direct mail and telemarketing to generate opt-in e-mail addresses.
Reach Baird at [email protected],
Doran at [email protected],
Geller at [email protected],
Kaiser at [email protected],
Marusich at [email protected] and
Organ at [email protected]