How the Hyphen Makes a Huge Difference

Typically, I write about e-mail marketing strategies that can help others improve their e-mail marketing efforts, whether it’s a new technology, creative offering, or strategic approach. There seem to be endless topics to discuss when speaking about e-mail marketing.

This week, though, I wanted to write about an unusual response to a small statement the Email Experience Council (EEC) recently made about the spelling of the word “e-mail.”

On Monday, the EEC released the first of a series of standards about e-mail marketing. This first release was based around the spelling of the word “e-mail,” which is to spell it without a hyphen and capitalize only the first letter. “As we were working on our initiatives, we started receiving e-mails from people who had spelled the word a variety of ways: ‘eMail,’ ‘e-mail,’ ‘e-Mail,’ ‘Email,’ and ’email.’ It seemed kind of odd to us that over 10 years of using a medium, we would not be able to standardize the spelling. As an organization focused on being leaders in effective e-mail, we decided to start with the basics,” commented Paul Beck, EEC cofounder.

The decision to spell ’email’ without a hyphen was made as a result of a number of different initiatives, including surveys, research, legal council, and a review of how similar words (e.g., “Web site” and “online”) have evolved over the years.

Believe it or not, we received hundreds of comments after the announcement of the suggested spelling — both positive and negative. Some groups, like the “Oxford English Dictionary,” came forward to support the statement. Others were cynical. One comment asked why the EEC was wasting time on such a trivial issue.

At that point, I realized one little hyphen means one heck of a lot to those of us in the e-mail industry.

First, as silly as it may seem, setting this standard for e-mail is the first time (that I know of) anyone has set any type of standard for e-mail outside of CAN-SPAM. This is revolutionary! We should all be very proud. We did something to make history. We banded together to take a stand in the world of e-mail.

Second, people are passionate about e-mail. If the spelling suggestion doesn’t prove this, I don’t know what will. The e-mail messages and feedback about the announcement really helped solidify the fact that some people take e-mail seriously and that the EEC is on the right track.

I’m not sure this statement will change the world, but it’s extremely encouraging. People are getting excited and motivated to participate in the EEC’s efforts. The changes and impacts made by the EEC will define the way we view e-mail in the future.

Note from the Editor: It is and remains ClickZ’s editorial policy to spell ‘e-mail’ with a hyphen. Hence, there are contradictions in style between the spelling in this column versus the spelling our columnist and the Email Experience Council advocate.

Meet Jeanniey at E-Mail Marketing, the first in the new ClickZ Specifics conference series, October 24-25 in New York City.

Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.

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