Digital MarketingEmail MarketingWho Owns E-Mail?

Who Owns E-Mail?

Hint: it isn't marketers. But it could be.

Last year, I wrote a column about the power of e-mail. I discussed the fact that e-mail isn’t a marketing trick but a powerful dialogue tool. I then wrote about CMOs undervaluing e-mail and challenged them to look into their e-mail programs’ effects, from both a response and a branding standpoint. A third column talked about the fact that doing e-mail right is plain, old hard. An effective e-mail marketer must understand not only contact strategies but also good layout elements, technical functions, database transfers, deliverability factors, and more. And recently I wrote a report about image, link, and message rendering for the for the Email Experience Council (EEC) that talks about how to ensure your e-mail renders appropriately in Outlook 2007.

Presented independently, each of these columns appears informational, possibly even insightful. But presented collectively, they paint a very clear picture: no one owns the e-mail channel. Instead, a bunch of smart people run around creating standards and best practices to deal with decisions being made by people who significantly affect the way we use e-mail.

This is pretty scary. A product-development person at Microsoft will significantly change the way we create e-mail because that person felt HTML support was overrated. A politician significantly changed how e-mail sends were managed for Michigan recipients by mandating a suppression e-mail list be used before every send. A man who lives on a boat in Europe had a significant say in whether your e-mail would be delivered because he made a list.

All the while, we marketers have been left reacting to all these developments and spending our time changing the way we do business to accommodate these uninformed e-mail policymakers.

Wouldn’t it make more sense if some individual or group could turn the tables and own e-mail? E-mail is one of the most widely used communication channels in the world. Wouldn’t it be better if, as smart marketers, we spent our time proactively defining the future of e-mail rather than reacting to it?

The time has come for us to take a stand and define e-mail. We must begin to set standards and advocate positive changes. If you are an active e-mail marketer, send me your top three e-mail goals, and I’ll use them in a future column. Perhaps if we all talk about what would be good for the industry, we’ll have a chance at making it better.

And if this column has you fired up enough to want to make a proactive change, take this poll. It asks if rendering companies should add an enhancement that lets people test e-mail views on handheld devices. If the overwhelming answer is yes, we can take ownership and focus on making that change.

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

Related Articles

What does the future hold for email? We asked our readers

Email What does the future hold for email? We asked our readers

9m Rebecca Sentance
Round-up: The Future of Email

Email Round-up: The Future of Email

9m Rebecca Sentance
How these 11 brands are nailing cart abandonment emails

Email How these 11 brands are nailing cart abandonment emails

9m Tereza Litsa
Inbox innovation: The tools and technology powering the future of email

Advanced Email Marketing Inbox innovation: The tools and technology powering the future of email

9m Chris Camps
4 ways to make sure your email technology is mobile optimized

Email 4 ways to make sure your email technology is mobile optimized

9m Rebecca Sentance
Do brands still need bulk email software?

Email Do brands still need bulk email software?

9m Al Roberts
How fashion brand Thread is delivering hyper-personalized emails at scale

AI How fashion brand Thread is delivering hyper-personalized emails at scale

9m Chris Camps
How rich media can bring your emails to life

Email How rich media can bring your emails to life

9m Clark Boyd