The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Is Ken Magill Reading My Mind or My Blog?

Ken Magill of Direct Magazine does it again by exposing the dirty side of email.  However this time a little bit of politics was added creating a cesspool of irony.  His recent report "Prankster Pollutes Obama's E-mail List" exactly makes my point from last night's blog post.  Even though politicians are exempt from the CAN SPAM Act they aren't immune to best practices.  As Hillary Clinton would have put it, "shame on you Barack Obama!"

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Top Issues for Email Marketers in 2008

1.  The Death of the ISP White List
For those lucky email marketers who previously relied on ISP white lists for superior deliverability will get a shocking wake up call this year.  As ISPs rely more on reputation-based systems for discerning good senders from bad ones white lists are rapidly becoming obsolete as the mistake of false positives are less of an issue.  This new technology and methodology of reputation-based systems levels the deliverability playing field for all email marketers eliminating the backdoor approach to deliverability.  This also means that email marketers must continue to rely on best practices and monitor their reputation as a slip up can cost them dearly.

2.  Email Rendering on Mobile Devices
As the mobile phone continues to become the main communications device, email rendering on mobile devices will become a serious issue in 2008.  Since many mobile devices only display text emails, email marketers will have a challenging time separating their mobile users from their traditional computer receivers.  This segmentation will be necessary to ensure proper rendering of their messages to non-HTML friendly email clients.  It will also be difficult for email marketers to determine the true open rate of their campaigns because of this growing user base.

3.  Authentication Technology Will Become Mandatory
DomainKeys, OpenSPF and Sender ID - if you don't know what these things are find out fast! Mail server authentication both from a marketing and corporate admin standpoint will become a necessary defense in the spam war.  It is estimated that only 30% of mail servers use these authentication technologies however this number will grow quickly as email marketers rush to take advantages of technology that will help distinguish their email from spam. In addition, it wouldn't surprise me if the FTC made this a mandatory practice as part of compliance with the CAN SPAM Act.

4.  More Legislation Might Be Around The Corner
According to the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) there will be 15 to 25 new Do Not Mail bills introduced on the state level that will attempt to replicate the Federal Do Not Call legislation.  Although the federal government does have a legitimate business interest (US Postal Service) in not proposing federal legislation, Congress might be forced into taking action if a patchwork of state laws pass.  What does this mean for email marketers?  Legislation in one marketing medium usually finds its way to other ones as technology makes compliance and enforcement is less of an issue.  Although I don't think 2008 will bring any significant legislation to email marketing, the Do Not Mail bills could be a pre-curser to amending CAN SPAM from opt-out to opt-in.

5.  Social Networking Sites Will Become The New Inbox Providers
When people think of social networking sites like MySpace, FaceBook, Linked-In, etc. they usually don't think of email however this will soon change.  I find it ironic when social networking pundits declare that the social networking will bring the death of email when the medium is totally reliant on email for viral marketing and alerts.  Based on the wide adoption of social networking sites over the past few years, coupled with the fact that the average user is increasing the amount of time spent on these sites, it is only natural for social networking sites to include inter-network email as part of their service offerings.  Get ready for MySpace, FaceBook and Linked-In to compete with Google, Yahoo and MSN for the inbox.

Overall 2008 should be a great year for email marketing.  More businesses large and small will rely more on the medium as it claims a larger footprint in their Internet marketing mix.  Happy New Year!

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Yes Mail Gets $50K FTC Smack Down!

The Federal Trade Commission in a 5 to 0 vote decided to smack Yes Mail with a $50K fine for violating the CAN SPAM Act all due to a technical oversight.  I really feel bad for Yes Mail because no software company is without technical glitches.  Unfortunately, in this industry, technical mishaps comes with confrontation from the federal government.  The next step for the FTC is to chase after clients of email service providers.  Just make sure your email service provider dots their i's and crosses their t's because you'll be the next one to enter the ring.

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