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Archive for the ‘Email List Rental’ Category

Red signal on the train Network.I have the rare luxury of finding a seat on the Twickenham to Waterloo train early on a Sunny day in May. To take advantage of this incredible stroke of luck, (did everybody sleep in today?) I’m tinkering on my Dell laptop while two other brusque and slightly portly, important looking business men do the same. A quick survey of my surrounding commuters reveals 7 out of 10 are plugged in to mp3s or iPods, and out of the three remaining, two are chattering very loudly (perhaps causing the others to plug in) and another opposite me is sound asleep, or perhaps dead, I’m not sure. Considerately, I can’t hear the ugly hiss of someone’s tinny Britney album, as everyone has their headphones turned to a respectful level. Only one is reading the Metro, a stark difference to a couple of years back when everyone would bury their heads into the latest breaking news about Big Brother or some other daily digest of brain garbage.

This all got me thinking of how quickly trends come and go, which is topical to my visit to the iMedia Agency summit last week in Brighton. I enjoyed the conference and met some great people, but the prevalence of organisations, start-up or otherwise in the social media sector was particularly eye opening. Obviously it’s no surprise that social media is an engaging topic of discussion, but the number of sector representatives all jockeying for position as the next potential Facebook did seem reminiscent of some kind of bubble akin to the email sector’s early days.

The great news from an email suppliers point of view as there was only one other email supplier at the entire event, which based on the fact that email has become an integral part of any good marketing plan was fantastic but of course, I guess it depends on why this was the case. The truth is that even though email remains one of the most effective marketing channels, of the variety of blue sky businesses which launched into the space 10 years ago, few remain. This is certainly true in context of those suppliers who managed to get through the steep learning curve of delivering sustainable long term email strategies for brands, avoiding the gold rush at the cost of the consumer or brand and only for the benefit of their brow beating investors.

Man walking next to train tracksWhat remains in the marketplace is a group of companies orchestrating healthy competition centred around delivering quality products, services and value to win the commitment of well informed brands who don’t suffer hit and run tactics or the bad practices of those companies who have long since floundered. To this day this presents my biggest obstacle at eCircle; how to re-educate the masses that the bad practice email legacy they may have seen 5 years ago is not the norm and that you can create incredible customer value leading to sustainable profits relatively easily. It’s a rational response if you’ve had your fingers burnt, but with the evolution of common sense in email marketing it’s a ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ strategy. Rather like saying from now on everyday I’m going to get up at 4am, walk the 13 miles to work in all weathers, because when I used the train last I didn’t get a seat, people had their music on too loudly and the portly man next to me died.

Now where’s the common sense in that?

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So what happened to Swine flu? Apart from Johnny Sick Note claiming he was on death’s door when it first hit the news reels? At my last check it was going to wreak havoc on an unprecedented scale and within 28 days we’d all be squealing. I bought lots of newspapers that day ..

Maybe it wasn’t as bad as we first thought.

Today I was sat in a meeting with a head of marketing for a major European brand and I faced a similar sensationalist, yet somewhat tiresome opinion:

“In America the email open rate is less than 1%: the UK will be the same, it is just a matter of time…”

How depressing. He was of course referring to email list rental response rates in the US, and in part he’s not wrong.  In fact nevermind America, there are plenty of European lists which perform in a similar, appalling way. I bet this fellow also had swine flu recently.

But in the case of email, America’s sneeze shouldn’t result in a cold in the UK or Europe. Apart from the obvious differences in the privacy laws, we have an unforeseen advantage of multiple countries each developing their email marketplace maturity at different paces, and different cultures and legislation tackling those developments as they occur. This causes a natural barrier to large scale mass marketing techniques so effective with generation X, but totally ineffective for generation Y, thus resulting (possibly through more fortune than design) in far efficiently adapted online marketing channels. America’s once well trusted application of old school marketing methods has resulted in an unfortunate mass consumer snub, yet Europe’s inability to apply the same methodology to the same magnitude has bought us time and education to establish greater consumer trust created by technologies designed in more turbulent waters. 

So what might have initially appeared a logistical headache now presents huge opportunities. Email marketing in Europe has not only maintained healthy response levels, but also presents measureable, predictable metrics and highly profitable rewards for the well thought out campaign. Couple this with the growing establishment of specialist pan European email marketing companies, like eCircle, 2010 is looking like it could be a great year for European suppliers and marketing brands alike.

Like many dot com success stories, they say the first up the hill gets the arrows, but it’s those that follow who eventually take the prize. So when it comes to email, with cup of tea in hand and a stiff upper lip I say; “you can keep your swine flu, just like the guinea pigs you are!”

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