The next revolution in e-mail marketing

The e-mail inbox lies at the convergence point of two mega-trends in advertising: Marketers forming direct relationships with consumers and marketers working to deliver more relevant, specifically targeted messages to consumers. The inbox uniquely allows marketers to address interested consumers in context.

As a result, it verges on becoming a major online advertising medium. However, it remains to be seen how quickly the potential of the inbox will be realized. Much will hinge on eliminating the clutter and aggravation caused by spam, phishing and viruses. These attacks have forced ISPs to adopt draconian measures to protect their subscribers, impeding the medium’s creative and functional capabilities. Fortunately, we’ve started addressing these problems and have seen progress. The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) announced that 51% of Fortune 500 companies use at least one technique to authenticate outbound e-mail. At Goodmail, we delivered almost three billion certified e-mail messages in August alone, by partnering with leading ISPs that permit carefully screened and qualified senders to achieve 100% delivery of opt-in e-mail with images and links enabled.

The same level of trust facilitating these privileges today will open the door to a more interesting inbox experience tomorrow. Imagine rich media and video, shopping cart functionality and quick and easy bill pay in e-mail. These features and more are coming soon to an inbox near you. Here are three topics to consider, to prepare you for the inbox of the future.

The medium is the message. Future e-mail will bring new experiences and standards of expectations to recipients, while introducing richer creative elements and functionality. Think about how you can make e-mails more engaging and useful. For example, video isn’t only valuable to media companies and their viewers. Consumer products companies and retailers can use video in e-mail to deliver product demonstrations and consumer reviews, while travel marketers can send video tours of the destinations they’re pitching.

All eyeballs are not created equal. The age of “spray and pray” marketing is over. Consumers have grown adept at ignoring irrelevant messages no matter how loud a marketer shouts. Intelligent inbox marketing enables advertisers to inform, intrigue and entertain customers by speaking to an audience of one. With the bridge of trust from marketers through the ISPs to consumers firmly established, the point of action gets moved even closer to the consumer. With diminishing attention spans, the fewer clicks between catching their eyes and driving them to buy something, the better.

Greater accountability means greater revenue opportunities. Firms across each vertical sector can develop e-mail programs to derive incremental advertiser revenue. In tomorrow’s world of guaranteed inbox deliverability and provable impressions and click-throughs, a sender can develop a more sophisticated and appealing performance-based advertising pricing model. They’ll be able to offer higher-priced ad vehicles like rich media banners, video pre-roll and “big ticket” inventory.

Now’s the time to think creatively and prepare for the next revolution in e-mail marketing.

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