Before SEO (define), before PPC (define) SEM (define), before interstitials, dayparting, and road blocks, there was e-mail. But lately, I've felt e-mail has taken a backseat to search engines, banners, and other types of online marketing. Case in point:

- A recent survey delving into how marketers choose online agencies lists "expertise in search engine marketing" front and center, along with a number of other factors. E-mail expertise? Not on the list.

- Many large organizations that optimize banners and search to the nth degree seem to consider e-mail an afterthought. Their segmentation, targeting, testing, and analysis are focused on the former. E-mail is sent and reported on, but not scrutinized to the extent of other online marketing efforts.

- E-mail has long suffered from an identity crisis. Tell people you do online marketing, and they immediately ask about PPC search. Tell them you do e-mail, and too often the response is "Oh, you do spam."

E-mail is like any other type of marketing. It takes time to perfect your approach. Many marketers seem impatient with e-mail. If they don't hit a homerun out of the park with their initial efforts, they stop trying.

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