Real Magnet

The Email Week That Was, 11-16-12

Here is a quick summary of some of the more important and/or interesting news stories on email marketing to cross the transom this week:

Email Users Can’t Count on Privacy Protections (via Wall Street Journal)
It was a bad week for email privacy. The entire General Petreaus affair affair hinged on a law that allows government agencies to request access to personal email accounts if they have an easy-to-obtain warrant. In the general’s case, a woman in Florida claimed she received threatening emails from Paula Broadwell. The FBI investigated and uncovered the Broadwell’s affair with Petreaus, most of which was chronicled in tens of thousands of messages in the draft folder of a shared Gmail account. The most unsettling part of the story is that the number of government increases for personal inbox access is on the rise. Google reported that it received 8,000 of them in the first half of this year, up 34% from last year. And it complied with 90% of the requests. Is this news going to suppress your open rate? Probably not directly, no. But what makes email such an important marketing channel is that it is indispensible for 1-to-1 personal communications. If people start to leave their personal lives out of email and use it only for business, engagement with that channel – and the brands who occupy it – will drop.

76% of Mobile Users Will Swap Their Email Address for Offers (via Marketing Charts)
At least if privacy is going down the tubes, email marketers can find some way to benefit from it. What is interesting about this study by McAfee Software is that mobile users are quick to give up their email address for a coupon or discount, but only 36% will provide their phone numbers. To me, this says that the next subscriber battleground will be for TXT subscribers. Consumers protect that channel with vigilance, meaning any brand that does gain access has earned and will enjoy engagement.

60% of Companies Do Not Consider Consumer Privacy a Priority (via DM News)
A study by PR firm Edelman that surveyed 6400 executives from 20 countries has found that 60% don’t think their company prioritizes consumer privacy, and more than half believe that if they were embroiled in a privacy scandal it wouldn’t damage their brands. Now if I began this week’s recap with this article your response may well be one of outrage or even contempt for all these companies that don’t care about their customers’ privacy. But really, why should they? The government doesn’t value consumer email privacy and consumers themselves will trade it away for free shipping. Why should brands bend over backwards to preserve it? Now I’m only half serious here, but the half that is looks forward to a time when access to an email address becomes as ubiquitous as access to a mailing address. This industry fought off a spam crisis once but if it happens again there is a good chance that our customers will jettison email for other channels, none of which were as readily available in 2005. Email privacy matters, even if it’s only to preserve the years of time and hundreds of thousands of dollars your company has spent building up the email channel it relies on so heavily.

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