Branded email may be in your inbox soon

Australian company BissMail promotes technology which can enhance the branding potential of business email

Corporate branding may be the next wave of the email phenomenon, but the big question is will recipients mind incoming messages with lots of bells and whistles attached?

Australian company Advatel is touting its multimedia email enhancing technology, which personalises correspondence with photos, company logos and voice messages, as a way to build closer business relationships in the corporate arena.

Hoping to get a foothold in a market that will see close to 250 billion commercial emails sent in 2002, BissMail allows users to send branded messages using Outlook and Eudora email programs.

"Email is the fastest form of business communication and it's exponentially growing," Advatel MD, Michael Terry, told ZDNet. Yet, "virtually no businesses in Australia brand emails."

According to Terry, in this respect Australia is on par with other advanced countries. "Nobody is really taking advantage of using email to support their brand and marketing activities...companies simply haven't got around to it."

Companies spend extortionate amounts of money on advertising, corporate image, letterheads and business cards, yet when it comes to email, the most common form of business communication, they are plain, impersonal, and unbranded -- the perfect opportunity to have the company logo before the customer is ignored, Terry said.

"Coca Cola, the world's most recognised brand, is spending billions of dollars a year on getting its brand out there...it must send a hundred million emails a year but they don't have its brand on them."

BissMailwas recently unveiled in Australia and will be marketed overseas next month. With a US$20 price-tag for a single user licence, Terry believes the price is too good for businesses to ignore.

"I'm pretty confident people will see the opportunity available to them at a low price," Terry said. However, he declined to forecast whether business email branding would take off with a whimper or a rush. "No one has ever had a product like this available before," he said, adding that he anticipated it would be "enthusiastically adopted."

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) said that embedding images in standard corporate emails is not yet commonplace, possibly due to size and bandwidth issues and therefore consideration for recipients.

However,"just as long as our policies on spam are respected we would support it," IIA, executive director Peter Coroneous, said.

Terry claims that BissMail adds about 7 kilobits to the size of an email -- about 1.6 seconds to the transmission time -- and advises that photographs are sent as compressed jpeg files and logos as compressed gif files, in order to reduce the size of the file.

"We feel BissMail is 70 percent about building better business relationships," Terry said. "It provides the benefits of a personal visit with the efficiency of an email."

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