The Four Myths of E-mail Marketing

Epsilon Interactive, a New York-based e-mail solutions provider, recently announced the results of its latest annual survey on consumer perceptions of e-mail and spam, highlighting fundamental shifts in ISP market share, gains in the battle against Internet fraud, and early indications of the promise held by authentication solutions to improve confidence in the channel. Michael Della Penna, the company’s chief marketing officer, outlines the four myths on e-mail marketing in a four-part series for MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT.

Myth #1: Phishing and e-mail fraud has created an e-mail crisis.

Over the past two years, I have witnessed countless discussions and presentations announcing the end of e-mail marketing due to the rise of phishing (sending fraudulent e-mails as a way of tricking consumers into supplying personal data) and other types of e-mail fraud. While some in the industry used pronouncements of an “e-mail crisis” to rally support for the adoption of technological solutions such as authentication standards, most failed to put e-mail phishing/fraud in its proper context and gravely underestimated the rise of a savvier, more educated consumer willing to take control in order to protect a medium he loves and relied upon. First and foremost: Phishing remains a small fraction of all information breaches in the U.S. According to a January survey by Javelin Strategy and Research, the most common source of an information breach (30%) continues to be the result of a lost or stolen wallet, credit/debt card, or checkbook.

Phishing and online transactions ranked among the lowest source of information breaches according to the study (3% or less). This is not to say that phishing is not a problem and that it should not be addressed, but it is far from destroying the viability of e-mail. Second: We have, in general as an industry, underestimated the power of the consumer and of educating consumers in favor of the quick technology fix. While many marketers and ISPs have done some work in this area, consumers are in record numbers becoming more educated and confident with e-mail. In addition, record numbers are taking action to protect themselves across all media like never before.

According to a recent Epsilon Interactive/GFK NOP World research study, nearly 69% of consumers surveyed felt they could identify a phishing e-mail, up from 64% last year. In addition, more than 75% of consumers reported using antispam filtering or challenge response software, up significantly from 65% last year. As a result of all these efforts, e-mail is alive and well. What is evident, however, is that the marketing environment has been changed forever and will continue to evolve for many years to come. We have indeed entered into a new era in marketing where a savvier and more experienced consumer not only demands control but is also taking control of the kinds of messages they receive, trust, and respond to.

For marketers that means embracing the empowered consumer, improving the relevance and value of your e-mail communications, and growing your education efforts to further distinguish and build trust for your e-mail communications in the inbox.

Michael Della Penna is chief marketing officer at Epsilon Interactive, an operating unit of New York-based marketing firm Epsilon.

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