Jeanniey Mullen and Paul Beck recently participated in an e-mail marketing conference in Holland. They were surprised to learn that many of the challenges faced in other countries are the same as those they face in the United States. The impact e-mail has on marketing efforts, funding, appropriate usage, cadence etc. were about similar to the types of questions they receive in the U.S.
Two main cultural differences centered on the use of third-party lists for acquisition purposes and challenges around deliverability. They learned that e-mail list rental is relatively new to Holland. Co-registration, affiliate deals are just in their infancy. In most cases, the e-mail focus is on retention-based and viral efforts. Deliverability/rendering issues are brand new to Dutch marketers as well. In fact, most of the conference attendees were shocked to see the impact that poor rendering can have on a message.
Source: MediaPost's Email Insider Blog
Deliverability and rendering issues are indeed rather unknown in mainland Europe. At the event in Holland, none of the ISP's even participated. But I guess tackling deliverability in Europe in not an easy task.
In general, most European markets aren't as well developed as the US market when it comes to email marketing (especially Belgium is lagging behind quite a bit). The main issue I see in Belgium is that there is (to my knowledge) a real lack of education on even the basics of email marketing. Too many marketers still take an offline approach to online direct marketing or haven't even seen the benefits that email marketing can bring to their business.
When I spoke with the managing director of a major online agency here in Brussels, he was absolutely startled to hear that I am so focussed on email marketing. In his mind, email marketing is just a minor part of the entire online marketing business and it's not really worth specializing in it. I agree that online marketing is broader than just email marketing, but he definitely does not recognize the value email marketing can bring. Of course there are other agencies that do understand the value and together with these agencies we have joined in an email marketing taskforce for the local IAB and are working on a best practices white paper to educate marketers in Belgium. It's a small step in the right direction and it will definitely not be enough, but you have to start somewhere, right?