My first job in this industry was in the email marketing side of things, so I’m constantly thinking about that sphere and playing with tools to improve its efficiency, relevance and overall karma. Let’s face it… email marketing has a black eye (or two).
However, I still keep in touch with many of my contacts from that side of things, and they are telling me more and more everyday how hot list management and email marketing is becoming again. If you were involved in either of those markets in 2001-2003 (or BCS as some of us call it… “Before Can-Spam“), you know the serious amounts of money that were flowing in from large advertisers and networks and out the other way towards anyone with a few thousand names and emails. That money brought even more blood hungry sharks into an already vulnerable situation and eventually brought the house down.
However, email is coming back in a big way largely due to social media such as RSS, blogs, and emerging media (or “web2.0” for lack of a better term) sites. It’s ironic because RSS was to be the savior of the inbox and cause all of us to re-examine how we consume data. That is true in some circles, but for the vast majority of individuals, RSS is still virtually unknown.
For instance, I get blank looks from the students in my college classes when I mention that they can subscribe to our class blog feed in a reader. They’ve all subscribed to receive updates in their email inboxes (with an alarmingly large number of @hotmail.com and @aol.com addresses for 18 year olds!). GMail and the new Yahoo Mail are helping to change things towards RSS consumption with integration of feeds, but most users of webmail are still on platforms which allow them to function inside the inbox with enough ease and comfort to not be bothered with RSS.
Amazingly, 34% of the over one hundred subscribers to CPN use the FeedBurner email option instead of using the feed inside of a feed reader. So, let’s not expect the general public to hop on the RSS bandwagon while online marketers and thought shapers are still using email subscriptions as well.
Which brings me back to the original point. Email is becoming hot again because spam filters are working, individuals are smarter and email is still highly relevant.
Make your affiliate site or network based on a community based theme, and you’ll see the validity of “email marketing 2.0” On both the backend (data collection and aggregation) and front end (marketing to email addresses), the forecast is sunny.