What happened in the United States in 2003?
In its role as a global provider of e-mail list communication and opt-in e-mail marketing solutions, L-Soft continuously monitors the trends in the United States and European marketplaces.
Exclusive to the subscribers of "LISTSERV at Work," L-Soft has published a list of five of the most important industry events that took place in United States this past year and has included predictions for trends that may occur in 2004.
1. A legislative framework for e-mail marketing finally emerged
Consumers, e-mail marketing associations and trade groups, and many business organizations are relieved to see that U.S. spam legislation is now a reality. The passage of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was the first real step toward federal legislation. The act, which went into effect January 2004, requires unsolicited commercial e-mail messages to be labeled and that opt-out instructions be included. It also prohibits the use of deceptive subject lines and false headers in e-mail messages. Advocates of federal legislation believe that the act will eliminate the confusion that state legislation has brought about by unifying the country in its fight against spam.
Prior to the passage of the CAN-SPAM Act, the three largest U.S. advertising and marketing trade groups released guidelines that establish standards for legitimate e-mail marketing practices. Based on direct input from members, The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and the Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) put together a set of nine guidelines that call on marketers to institute certain practices that will defend and enhance the viability of legitimate e-mail marketing. For a list of these guidelines, visit:
2. Spam is on the rise - but there are solutions
This year spammers found more ways to reach consumers, adding unsolicited cell phone text messages, blog posts and instant messages to the already increasing amount of unsolicited e-mail and pop-up ads sent. While many anti-spam solutions have been proposed throughout 2003, the only thing everyone seems to agree on is that there is no single solution. However, L-Soft believes that the spam problem can be solved through a combination of opt-in laws, international cooperation, education and filtering technology. In the short term, to avoid irritating potential and existing clients, businesses should implement only opt-in e-mail lists. These lists yield the highest response rates anyway. L-Soft's solutions cater to all levels of opt-in: single, confirmed and double opt-in.
3. The Sobig.F and Blaster worms of last summer highlight the growing virus problem on the Internet
August of 2003 was one of the worst months in history for computer users, with viruses crippling online activity across the world. However, thanks to the integration of F-Secure Anti-Virus technology into L-Soft's products, LISTSERV users safely sent millions of virus-free e-mail messages that month. In total, LISTSERV detected and stopped thousands of viruses that in turn were about to be distributed to more than two billion subscriptions. L-Soft's successful partnership with F-Secure was expanded in 2003 when the LISTSERV Anti-Virus Station was released, making virus protection available for users of all LISTSERV operating systems.
4. Increased interest in advanced e-mail communications
Over the last year, L-Soft has received more requests about conducting high-level e-mail communication - including database integration for customization and targeting, tracking results of e-mail campaigns and multipart messaging - than ever before. Recently, a large, well-known U.S. retailer added L-Soft's products to its CRM solution to create a comprehensive and more effective customer communication platform. U.S. businesses are on the brink of adopting all the unique benefits that come with correctly executed e-mail communication.
5. E-mail still outperforms other marketing channels
The better marketers get at conducting e-mail marketing campaigns and newsletters, the higher the response rates they are receiving. Even though spam is an increasing burden on e-mail accounts, permission-based e-mail communication continues to outperform most other marketing channels - both on the cost and revenue side. In 2003, permission-based e-mail continued to outperform direct mail, print ads and Web banners.
What trends does L-Soft believe will appear in 2004?
1. Throughout the year, the effects of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 that became effective in January will begin to appear. We will probably observe lawsuits involving people/organizations who do not comply with the act, as well as protest and praise from those affected by the act.
2. Spam, already emerging as a hot issue, will become even more significant. With so much emphasis on it, technical solutions, positive or negative, will inevitably materialize and gain more widespread usage.
3. A further increase in database-driven, customized e-mail marketing campaigns will occur as more organizations realize the business benefits of sending opt-in, personalized e-mail.
4. More e-mail viruses will spread across the Internet causing widespread damage and underscoring the importance of built-in virus protection for e-mail lists.
5. Realizing the cost and efficiency benefits, more businesses will integrate e-mail into their communication platforms.