4 predictions for e-mail marketing in 2009

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This year, the hot e-mail marketing topics were segmentation, personalization and deliverability. As we head into 2009, battling a recession and the associated drop in overall marketing budgets—MPG North America (a unit of the French advertising group Havas SA) predicts a 5%-to-8% drop in overall ad spending—those buzz words will make way for new ones. They have to, said Luc Vezina, head of marketing for e-mail marketing solutions provider Campaigner, a Protus IP Solutions company. “E-mail marketing is going to become even more important than it’s been, but companies are going to need to take e-mail relevance even further,” he said. Here are Campaigner’s four predictions for the New Year—and suggestions for how e-mail marketers can benefit.

1) Automation heats up. Everyone in 2008, it seemed, wanted to personalize and better target their campaigns, which led to better segmentation. However, human beings were still overwhelmingly pulling the trigger on so-called “triggered” campaigns. Next year, as companies start to take advantage of the avalanche of data sitting in CRM programs, triggering will happen automatically. “The difference between this year and 2009 is that now people have CRM in place, the data is there, and e-mail tools are integrated with the CRM system and its data,” Venzina said. And some CRM solutions even have e-mail marketing modules built in.

2) Marketers tap integrated marketing programs more often. E-mail marketing used to be relegated to the Web marketing team or to someone hired specifically to do e-mail marketing. This coming year, as head counts shrink and companies realize the value of controlling the entire message, integration will take a bigger role, Venzina said. “At conferences now, all people talk about is how important it is to think multichannel,” he said. “The results when you do that are greater when someone sees your ad online, gets an e-mail from you and sees a print ad—all with the same message.”

3) List hygiene becomes a must. “As marketers’ budgets are more constrained, people will realize how quality is so much more important than quantity,” Venzina said. “People will become less concerned about how big their lists are or how many people are opening their messages, and more concerned that the people who are opening them are finding that message relevant and are receptive.” To that end, companies will integrate individual e-mail lists into a single, manageable list, he said, which will also make it easier for companies to comply with CAN-SPAM. “You must be able to opt out from all of an organization’s e-mails,” he said.

4) Mobile e-mail marketing becomes a standard option. “There are tens of millions of BlackBerry phones, and people are checking e-mail from everywhere—at the mall [or] driving in their cars,” Venzina said. “People are often surprised at how poorly their e-mail renders on smart phones, and that’s when they make a change.” By offering a mobile e-mail option, marketers will make sure messages are deliverable and readable.

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