Dot-coms know where you live

I read with interest the article “Mail Chauvinism” (MW March 8). While I agree with many of the points raised in the article, I think what is interesting is that the Internet has spawned the “online data game”.

When the dot-com bubble burst in mid-2000, dot-coms looked at their inventories in search of something to turn into gold. This was when many realised the value of their customer databases and when we started to see dot-coms move into a market of which they had little or no understanding. With this came unsolicited mail, untargeted electronic direct mail and spam.

The online data game is not just about whether opt-in or opt-out is the best form of permission marketing, or who has the best targeting mechanism. What it is really about is data collection, and whether the people who are collecting the data understand what they are collecting and what to do with it.

Direct marketing on the Web needs to come of age. The only way it can do this is to develop conventional direct marketing skills and incorporate them into the dot-com world. This means employing trained direct marketers who understand the value of data, not necessarily those people who have the ability to demonstrate technological expertise.

Only when dot-coms start to understand the power of data will we see effective electronic direct mail.

Donald Hamilton

Sales director

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