This afternoon I received an invitation to be a panelist for the Software Marketing Performance Conference in June. I have spoken many times in the past about email marketing — the basics, for nonprofits, spam, for journalists, … I enjoy speaking so I get excited every time I get the opportunity.

This one, however, is more interesting — it’s about SaaS, or Software as a Service, for those not in the know. Back in 1999, I worked within online marketing at Red Hat. Very exciting times. Red Hat was and is still the leader in Linux and Open Source Software. It was also on the cusp of a hot IPO. Although I was working in midst of the Open Source revolution, my head was spinning with ideas on how to use the web for software rather than for content — like the vast majority of sites in 1999. So, I jumped from Red Hat to my spare bedroom with the idea that there were some exciting things to be done with web applications.

After the hard pop of the Internet bubble the SaaS term was born and the hype and buzz machines started revving a dull hum. However, email marketing services were not invited to the party and, typically, not associated with SaaS.

Widespread conspiracy? Probably not. Some think it was because email marketing services have always been web-based and SaaS typically is used to describe the battle between the old guard and the new guard. Like in the sales force automation space, is the new guard that it is accessed entirely through the web and Siebel is the old guard that is accessed through a server hosted locally.

Case in point — read the definition for SaaS on Wikipedia. Makes sense that email marketing vendors should be listed, but they are not. So, regardless of the reasons why email marketing has been overlooked, one of my goals is bring those things together. Stay tuned to my writings on next month’s conference to see how my quest goes.