The Evolution of Email Promotion
In the early days (around the turn of the century) I experienced a temporary nirvana wherein a basic promotional email blast to a qualified list regarding a decent conference could produce a response as high as 3%. We slashed our postal mailing budgets and reaped the benefits of free electronic promotion.
As the world caught on, response rates dropped. We started producing simple newsletters, or integrating our promotion with existing newsletter email. We continued to see delivery and open rates drop, and users opt out. I currently recommend at least a targeted postal mailing as part of an event marketing effort—not because response rates are good, but because the email channel is quickly exhausted and we have to use every promotional tool to recruit additional, incremental attendance. (I’m also looking at going back to fax promo as well—when was the last time you received a decent fax promo?)
It’s silly to cut down trees just because the electronic channel is choked with spam. One of the better potential solutions is outlined here by David Kalman of Terella. This scheme would need to be in broad use to be effective. My thought is that this might be best implemented as an open-source specification, then any number of companies could offer services that comply with the spec. Maybe this is a job for the Direct Marketing Association, or the Interactive Advertising Bureau (or maybe Google). I’m sure that someone out there has looked into implementing this in some form, and I’d be interested in hearing about anything similar.