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Email marketing has come of age. And we all know what happens with age. Zest, effectiveness and energy diminish. Younger and more effective players emerge. And, before you know it, you're pensioned off!

Which begs the question: Is email marketing, as we know it, doomed?

In its current state, perhaps. But with advancing age comes wisdom. The effectiveness of email is still hamstrung by spam, as we are limited by our inability to get our messages delivered because of spam filters. But email's current problems are merely challenges. And where there are challenges, there are opportunities.

MarketingProfs convened a Thought Leaders Summit of global experts to discuss the issues facing email marketers today. On hand were Chris Baggot, founding partner of ExactTarget; Rok Hrastnik, owner of MarketingStudies.net and author of Unleashing the Marketing and Publishing Power of RSS; Eric Kirby, senior vice-president and general manager for email solutions at DoubleClick; Chris Price, managing director of Permission; Neil Squillante, president of Landing Page Interactive; Jim Sterne, consultant, speaker and founding director of the Web Analytics Association; and Shar VanBoskirk, consulting analyst with Forester Research.

(Here's a complete list of the participants and their bios, as well as links to the audio recording and transcripts.)

On one thing we all agreed: Because of its innate and powerful ability to communicate one-to-one with customers, the essential value of email marketing is unlikely to change. But its cost-effectiveness has been its Achilles heel; so many marketers are now using email that consumers are overwhelmed.

Left to its own devices, email marketing is unlikely to survive. However, if email marketers take responsibility for developing great strategy and execution, we are likely to bring on its evolution.

In fact, the evolution of email marketing is already evident in the issues facing the industry today, as spam and inbox clutter—both big topics of conversation—have made it harder to build and gain results from email marketing.

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Stephan Spencer is the founder of Science of SEO and an SEO expert, author, and speaker.

LinkedIn: Stephan Spencer

Twitter: @sspencer