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A very young industry

Last week I saw a tweet that quoted Joel Book, Director of eMarketing Education at Exacttarget as saying

less than 20% of ppl in #emailmarketing have more than 2 yrs experience

I have this feeling that some of the industry wide issues with conflicts between “frat boys” and “utilitarians” is partly due to the lack of experience on the email marketing side. Contrast that with the ISP side, where many people have 10 or 20 years experience with email.
If we take for a fact that Joel is correct and 80% of email marketers have less than 2 years of experience, how does that affect the way email marketers approach email and delivery issues? More importantly, how does this affect deliverability? Does it affect the perception of email marketing and email marketers by the ISPs and spam blocking companies?
What does it mean for the state of the industry that so few people on one side of the equation have long term experience in email marketing and so many people on the other side of the equation have long term experience with email (and marketing)?
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, triggered by one of the session moderators at MAAWG introducing me as “someone who has been in the industry since before there were ESPs.” Yes, I’ve been around a long time, and his comment is accurate, if a bit disturbing.
Being around for as long as I have doesn’t just mean I have experience dealing with different problems, but also provides a deep understanding of where we are now and how we got here. The history of delivery, spam fighting and email marketing are all intertwined but never documented. Knowing that history is vital for mapping the future.
I can’t help but think that the lack of experience of the majority of the people in this industry is hindering delivery and effective email marketing. There are so few of us who could be considered old hands, is that hindering the industry as a whole?

3 comments

  1. Kent McGovern says

    Great blog post as always.
    Even though there are some of us in email delivery with less than 2 years experience we look up to those that have been around the block for guidance and insight. Some of us are not afraid to put in the time to learn everything we can about the email world and are not afraid to admit when we don’t know something. The knowledge that people like Al Iverson, Anne Mitchell and yourself share through your blogs and through email is invaluable and greatly appreciated.
    I will admit that there are people out there that don’t have the same view that I do and that’s their prerogative, but I for one appreciate the “Old Guard” of the email world.

  2. Karen Balle says

    Even though I understood early on why spam was bad, it was probably five years before I started to develop a truly deep level of understanding about the social and economic email ecosystem. One of the most important things that experience has given me is the insight into those “extra” emails sent have outside of the email ecosystem.
    I think when newer folks look at deliverability issues, they tend to look more at the immediate resolution for those issues because those are more easily resolved. The real problems aren’t short-term. Up to 40% of purchasing decisions are influenced now by online marketing and a significant portion of that is through email. Providers of email incur heavy expenses in anti-spam filtering, postmaster support, feedback loops, mail servers, etc.
    The long-term cost ramifications to all parties is not immediately apparent, but huge. Best practices revolving around user engagement can be hard to explain but they address many of these core concerns.

  3. You must be present to win – Word to the Wise says

    […] her post, A very young industry, Laura Atkins of Word to the Wise quotes ExactTarget’s Joel Book as stating that less than […]

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