Email Marketing Advertisements: Contrasting Views


Internet marketers debate

There has long been a debate among Internet marketers about whether or not advertisements should be made a part of marketing emails which are sent to subscribers; and more specifically, whether such ads and promotions in the form of product links and banners would be considered acceptable to the overall marketing community. The topic has been hotly debated for years, with some Internet marketers being strongly in favor of placing advertisements in email marketing while others having been strongly against the use of any kind of advertisements in email marketing.

As is often the case with most debates, there is the group which consists of those who take a more neutral stance and therefore are not either firmly for or against the use of advertisements in email marketing campaigns. This article will take a look at both sides of the argument in an effort to raise the level of awareness about this subject, invoke reasonable thought on the issue, and allow the reader to formulate his/her own opinions on whether or not this subject is worthy of discussion and the attention paid to it by marketers as well as other entities, not the least of which is the FTC.

Two sides of the debate

Let’s start with the group of Internet marketers who are strongly favor the inclusion of advertisements in emails that are distributed for marketing purposes. Those who favor the use of advertisements view the sale of advertising space in email marketing materials, such as emails or enewsletters, as a way to generate profit from any given email marketing campaign based on the belief that this tactic puts less pressure on an Internet marketer to meet expectations of email distribution list members, since emails are already generating a profit, even if they do not entice the email recipients to make a purchase.

On the other hand, those marketers who are firmly against the use of advertisements in email marketing are of the opinion that such inclusions make the emails seem more like spam and less like interesting and valuable information which just happens to include marketing materials. Those on this side of the fence feel as though any advertisement in an email marketing campaign should be subtle advertising for the products and services offered by the distributor of the email and not advertisements for businesses who have paid for an advertising spot in a given email. They believe the original emails are acceptable but additions to them are spam.

Could neutrality be a guide?

Still others are someone in between (on the fence) because they haven’t taken a position in this debate, perhaps for several reasons; but some of the reasons they have not taken a position could be revealing in the sense that any of these reasons – or none of them – could determine whether or not marketing emails that include advertisements is as important an issue as the the two previous groups have insisted it is. In other words, if the main reason for this group’s neutrality is indifference then there is not much to be revealed; but if the main reason is that, legality or best practices adhered to by the email marketer renders his/her emails acceptable whether or not it contains advertisements, then perhaps the rest of us might need to follow their example.

In most cases these ‘neutral’ individuals might believe it is acceptable for advertisements to appear in marketing emails as long as the ads do not overshadow other, more useful and valuable information which, in most email marketing campaigns, is the original intent of such emails. Understanding therefore, that this middle of the road concept could define the position of certain Internet marketers who adhere to it as not firmly for or against placing advertisements in emails which are distributed for marketing purposes as long as the email marketer (email sender) adheres to industry best practices and does not violate the CAN-SPAM Act.

In the grey

In view of the above, it is important to point out here that information in this article is vague by design because it leaves more of an opportunity for you, the reader, to form your own opinion about this issue. Such vagueness is important because the subject is largely a matter of personal preference where each reader must decide for him/herself whether or not s/he agrees with either side or chooses to take a middle of the road stance. As readers of this article may have opinions that could be influenced by whether or not they are considered to be marketers or consumers we understand the delicate nature and significance of the subject matter and how their preferences can be impacted.

One the one hand consumers may be less likely to appreciate advertisements in emails intended for marketing purposes because they might feel it distracts from the original products. On the other hand however, marketers may be more apt to be accepting of such advertising because they can understand the financial gain which is possible. So when evaluating opinions about the use of advertising, it is important to note whether or not the individual offering an opinion is involved in advertising, as it may be more worthwhile to seek out opinions from consumers since they are more likely to share the beliefs of your potential customers.