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The need to extend the reach of a business by engaging in mass communication strategies with target markets is a key driving force behind the increased roll out and adoption of bulk email solutions, writes Dawie Hanekom, marketing director at Sulaco New Media.

E-mail is an effective, accessible, pervasive and instant method of interaction with markets. The increase in volume of corporate communication should not be a surprise to anyone and it is also clear why users end up entrapped by poor management of virtual communication.
Added to this is the impact of the application of legislation such as the ICT Bill of South Africa, the Promotion of Access to Information Act, the Electronic Communication and Transactions ACT or ECT Act, King II Report as well as the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act.
Other key characteristics of a solution that offers immediate value includes adherence to spamhaus spam filtering rules and the use of a double OPT-In method of e-mail dissemination.
This legislation has been introduced to compel decision makers to enhance control over information dissemination.
At the same time the increased level of global cyber crime and the potentially hazardous consequences of unsolicited e-mails or spam has also forced companies or organisations to review their method of external and internal communication.
Given this scenario companies often attempt to manage bulk e-mail in-house and the process is often resource intensive and time consuming.
Spammers normally harvest email addresses from various sources and are clearly not interested in whether the recipient actually fits the criteria (target market) of the product/service.
Unsolicited email is then the outcome and appears in your inbox, when it makes its way past spam filters.
Other challenges that influence effective bulk-mailing include the fact that some mail servers block HTML emails or images are not displayed properly.
More recently, when Outlook 2007 was launched, the manner in which the mail client displays emails changed completely.
For some reason Microsoft decided to change the industry standard so that Outlook no longer makes use of the Internet Explorer Renderer, but rather the one found in Microsoft Word.
This also means that you cannot use any background images when creating templates. There are means of still making the template look good, though.
Custom-designed bulk invoice emailing solutions enable users to correspond effectively and directly with clients/ suppliers/corporate divisions/company departments & staff.
This facility allows users to send notifications or newsletters, email specials/ advertisements and product launches, and engage in viral email marketing campaigns.
As far as the investment in technology is concerned there is merit in considering a Web-based console. This allows the client to compile and send emails from any location with a computer & internet connection.
Clients can use the console for creating an HTML or plain text email with the Word-type editor; import databases; access reports; uploaded images or attachments; change the sender name/email address; add mail groups and manage contact details.
The system is a closely controlled sending process, which makes use of an industry standard mail transfer agent (MTA) to deliver clean sending process.
Service providers have to be in a position to advise on new developments and trends in the market, and assist clients to leverage off the opportunities to better operate their communications. Ultimately, bulk e-mailing is and can be an effective business tool if operated correctly – but, like most other technologies, can be a bane if abused or applied without regulation or  thought.