The Changing e-Marketing Landscape

With new spam filters and regulations, many credit union marketers are being innocently caught like dolphins in the spam nets that are now in place with Internet service providers and spam software. Here’s what you should know to continue your e-marketing success…




Did you know that although a credit union’s email message is being sent to a member’s valid address, it may never actually make it to his inbox? A great example, if your eStatement notification masks the account number with an "X" for each digit, by the third digit your "XXX" will turn on just about every spam blocker in the industry!

While credit unions can always tell how many emails were sent, opened and the click-throughs, there is no way of knowing specifically how many (or which ones) are blocked at the Internet service providers (ISP) or corporate filters. Most anti-spam programs are not set to return bounce backs that would let anyone know. Measuring results with email marketing used to be easy using today’s technology. Here is an example of measuring the success of a special loan promotion email for a credit union:

Emails Sent 1,935
Emails Opened by members 1,182
Click Through to CU web page 88
% Emails Viewed by members 61%

The question is – were the unopened 753 (39%) even delivered?

Astonishingly, 46 percent of email users do not use any spam filter, according to a 2003 study by Forrester Research. The same study reveals that 44 percent rely only on the spam filter their ISP provides. Only 5 percent use their ISP's filter in combination with desktop spam-filtering software. It’s a growing issue that all credit union email marketers need to be aware of and consider in future email marketing efforts.


With spam filters, new regulations and members having multiple email addresses, many credit union marketers are starting to wonder if email marketing is dying. It’s not dying, it’s evolving, and veteran credit union email marketers now have to be more sophisticated when using the channel.

For instance, DoubleClick reports in one of its studies that respondents have an average of 2.3 email addresses. Members are starting to use available tools to limit spam and are employing separate email accounts in attempts to increase control and improve their email experience. Getting an email address is not as important as getting the RIGHT email address. Consumers report that they have separate email accounts for:

  • Surfing and ordering online
  • Travel
  • Work or business related
  • Personal "Friends & Family"

The industry will start to see a new breed of email solutions that help manage this challenge and make the e-contact more valuable.


Whether a credit union chooses to go it alone or with an email marketing partner here are some important things to know and look for in any solution that you deploy in 2004 and beyond. Does your email partner/provider:

Manage Whitelists? Are they proactively managing the process of getting on (and staying on) whitelists and getting off blacklists?

Manage the AOL Feedback Loop? If enough members click "report spam" in emails from the credit union in their AOL mailbox and the credit union continues to send email, AOL can blacklist the CU.

Manage reverse look-ups for their IP addresses? Many ISPs check the validity of the return IP address before delivering emails to your members. A bad return address will prevent email from going forward.

Send outbound emails in smaller batches? A large volume of emails all at once with bad email addresses is a spam signal and could automatically have that batch blocked by many ISPs.

Automatically turn off bad email addresses? Emails sent to a permanently closed address is another reason ISPs will block mail.

Generate postcards to members when an email address goes bad? As a partner, providers should help get a new contact address.

DigitalMailer continues to be a leader in using the Internet to help credit unions communicate with their members. We employ active white list management and all the practices mentioned above so there’s no need to scrap your email address database and strategies. For more information on how we can become your email sender at a fraction of the cost or help you manage this in-house visit or send an email to for additional information.
For a FREE report on how to improve your email marketing titled "Electronic Messaging Tips For Email Success" click on the report icon or visit

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DigitalMailer is a digital communication company with products such as e-Lerts, eSurveys and eStatements that assist credit unions in gaining a strategic business advantage via the Internet. Please contact Ron Daly or Greg Crandell for additional information or to share your ideas and comments.

© 2004 DMI




Sept. 20, 2004


  • Excellent article! Ron did a great job in clearly calling out the potential pitfalls as well as methods to effectively deal with them.