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EDITIONS
Friday, 27 September, 2002, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
E-mail marketing on the rise
Screen grab of Hotmail account
Can spam clean up its image?
The number of messages in your inbox could be about to dramatically increase as a survey has found that 90% of firms are likely to try out e-mail marketing in the next year.

It may be spam to you, but to the marketing industry e-mail is an untapped gold mine, allowing firms to speak personally and directly to customers.

A new culture of permission-based marketing, where users opt in to receive commercial e-mails is set to clean up the image of spam, according to emedia, the firm behind the survey.

"If it is down to the individual, they can control the number of e-mails they get," said David Clark, Managing Director of emedia, a firm which publishes e-mail bulletins for around 50 companies.

Tracking customers

"A lot of people are starting to use e-mail marketing," he said.


It is instant communication, cost effective and companies can track what a customers is doing

Paul O'Donoghue, Green Cathedral
"It allows companies to get in touch with their target market and also allows advertisers to market to them in a legitimate way."

Digital solutions firm Green Cathedral has seen a 60% rise in interest from companies keen to launch e-mail marketing campaigns.

According to Head of Digital Marketing Paul O'Donoghue, there are three reasons why firms like it.

"It is instant communication, cost effective and companies can track what a customers is doing," he said.

Software can monitor how successful e-mail campaigns are. A quarter of those e-mailed click through to the website being advertised and around 15% make a purchase, according to Mr O'Donoghue.

Viral campaigns, where users pass on the e-mail to a friend, are particularly successful.

For example William Hill is currently seeking to increase its customer base by sending an e-mail to customers inviting them to play a game if they can recommend a friend to the service.

The idea of e-mail marketing will be music to marketeers' ears but it will not stop the spammers who plague inboxes with offers of miracle diet cures, financial aid and invitations to visit porn sites.

Misleading text messages


In the eyes of consumers both spammers and those offering legitimate services will be tarred with the same brush,

Rob Dwight, ICSTIS
While junk e-mails now account for around 10% of all e-mails sent, the phone industry is determined to nip the problem of mobile spam in the bud.

Premium rate telephone service watchdog ICSTIS (Independent Committee for Supervision of Telephone Information Services) has promised to get tough on companies operating text messaging scams.

"Spamming users at all hours of the day with misleading services is simply not acceptable," said ICSTIS spokesman Rob Dwight.

ICSTIS has received hundreds of complaints from consumers who have received misleading text messages enticing them to call a premium rate number with the promise of mystery awards or other incentives.

Mr Dwight said a handful of mobile spammers were ruining the huge potential of mobile marketing for legitimate firms.

"In the eyes of consumers both spammers and those offering legitimate services will be tarred with the same brush," he said.

Getting tougher

"We want to get a clear message across that we will not tolerate such services and will issue heavy fines and bar services."

ICSTIS recently fined UK-based Moby Monkey 50,000 for sending misleading spam text messages.

To really drive the message home bodies such as the Information Commission (formerly the Data Protection Commission) need to be able to issue tougher fines and impose sanctions said Mr Dwight.

The European Commission also needs to decide whether text messages count as telephone calls, in which case it would be illegal to send messages to any consumer who has not directly requested them.

See also:

19 Sep 02 | Technology
13 Sep 02 | Technology
04 Sep 02 | Science/Nature
05 Aug 02 | dot life
08 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
22 Dec 00 | Business
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