In the newest Avant¦Marketer newsletter [avantmarketer.com] there is an interview with John Funk, founder of Exactis and long-time email marketer. He talks about the difference in using email for:
Acquisition: he sees this practice as fading away (I always called it spam)
Retention: he sees most companies as just now learning how to do it well
According to the [Wall Street] Journal, clickthrough rates on permission-based email campaigns fell from 5.6% in 1999 to 1.8% in 2002.
Does this line up with what members here are seeing? For the sites where I manage campaigns, we're getting MUCH better than those rates, and our rates are improving as we learn to tailor the message more precisely to the recipient's history.
Overall, permission email marketing is in a transitional phase, where some companies are finally starting to get what email can do, whereas most companies are stuck in an outdated "batch and blast" metaphor. ~~~ ...And so they've broken what we would argue is one of the fundamental rules of the game, which is: Figure out what the customer wants to get from you, and send them that.