The Evolution of E-mail

Ellen Neuborne

Reaching and engaging customers through their inboxes is becoming a tactic of choice for many marketers

A Chinese philosopher once said a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. In today's marketing climate, a journey begins with an e-mail.

As marketers attempt to create long-term relationships with customers, many are turning to e-mail as the tactic of choice. Even as Web 2.0 advances steal the spotlight, e-mail, prized in the current market for endurance rather than for speed, remains a workhorse for many companies. “E-mail marketing has become the cornerstone of relationships,” says Stephan Dietrich, president of Neolane Inc., North America, an enterprise marketing software provider based in Newton, Mass. “It is a way to expand the dialogue, sustain the conversation, and engage in a true customer journey.”

Marketers are putting more dollars into e-mail. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) estimates e-mail marketing spending at $600 million in 2008 and expects it to exceed $1.1 billion by 2012. Separate research indicates that nearly 75 percent of marketers plan to increase direct e-mail spending in the coming year, according to Eloqua, a Vienna, Va.-based provider of e-mail marketing solutions.