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Is e-mail marketing becoming less important with the rise of Web 2.0 communications?

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Answer: Absolutely, positively, not. Now, please keep in mind that I am an e-mail marketer and not a purveyor of social networks, but I feel it is safe to say that as people flock to social networks—blogs, wikis and other Web-based communities—they rely heavily on the e-mail channel to keep them connected to other like-minded members. In fact, as businesspeople and consumers interact with greater frequency via multifaceted Web 2.0 channels, they’re going to expect all their other, legacy communications to follow suit.

E-mail plays an increasingly important role in making Web 2.0 successful. Because customers aren’t always logged into their online communities, they rely on e-mail to keep them informed of relevant updates, such as new content and messages from other members. This e-mail notification process not only keeps users engaged in their communities, it’s also helping to drive the site visits and page views that make the Web 2.0 business model so successful.

Companies that leverage Web 2.0 technology understand that the supporting e-mail communications are an opportunity to further engage their members. User-generated content is an excellent example. As members of communities create content within a social network, why not insert that highly relevant content into e-mail campaigns or alerts? Companies need to focus on proving this type of superior relevancy—i.e., e-mails that people can’t live without.

No matter where you are in taking advantage of Web 2.0 tools, keep in mind that to be successful, you’ll need to customize, deliver, track and optimize both your marketing and transactional e-mail. You’ll need tight integration with backend systems to enable continuous, member-generated e-mail communications; powerful personalization capabilities to keep users engaged; and the pricing model and scalability to accommodate rapid user growth.

Ryan Deutsch is director of strategic services at StrongMail Systems (www.strongmail.com), a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.

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