Are the Claims About the Death of Email Greatly Exaggerated? | Beth's Blog

Are the Claims About the Death of Email Greatly Exaggerated?

Research Studies

Chris Wells Created This Tombstone for Email

I asked the above question on Twitter after reading what Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg said at the Nielsen’s Con­sumer 360 con­fer­ence.   If you read only that, then you might think email is on life support.  (A change from a few years ago when people were saying “Email is for old people.” )

As much as we’d wish that email was dead, read Aus­tin Carr’s recent Open Thread art­icle on Fast­Com­pany.  Perhaps this is a more likely scenario-  a phased trans­ition or con­tinual upgrade.   While sometimes I feel the same as Katrin Verclas about killing email, perhaps because I get too much, it is still an effective marketing tool for nonprofits.

What you think?

8 Responses

  1. Nah, email is an identity. I’ve talked to a ton of younger people who text is their primary mode of communications but they still plan on emailing for important stuff.

    Unless facebook can make their fb mail better for ‘important stuff’ it’ll stay around for a long time. For the next 20 years were still going to have people around who are barely comfy with email and not at all comfy with anything else. Maybe in 20 years, but for not, email.

  2. Alan Levine says:

    I usually snark back that the only thing that is dead is saying ________ is dead; usually the answer is more complex than such a simple sweeping statement.

    Maybe email as we knew it as a primary communication channel is no more (and some stats claim by volume that 90% of email traffic is spam); as we use many other channels. But think about it- you cannot get many social media accounts w/o an email address to prove your identity.

    And e-mail of the 2010s is not email of the 1980s or 1970s in terms of what it can carry for information; it has evolved, and likely will continue to do so.

    As much as I rely on social media and instant messaging, on a daily basis, I conduct important amounts of information by email.

    It’s just a more layered and multi-channel way we communicate; I have settled arguments in IM and closed an arrangement for a conference speaker by twitter direct messaging. None of it is dead, but none of it is one channel to rule them all.

    And it helps to get one’s head out of the tuned in forest- I have a neighbor who has his first computer and has just discovered the power of email. Everyone is certainly NOT on facebook or twitter and we fall into a reality distortion field when that becomes our view.

  3. Eric Pratum says:

    No way that email is on the way out. It is still the number one or two reason the vast majority of people go online. It might not get much attention because it’s not new and sexy like social media or whatever else, but it’s the most straightforward form of one-to-one and one-to-many contact for most people online to understand and manage. Now, email might change a bit if something like Facebook introduces an option that most people find email-like, but somehow easier, better, faster, etc, but in essence, it would need to essentially be email in order for the wider web to accept it.

  4. Beth, I think we first met at SOBcon, and I’ve been following your blog for a while. Great stuff! I recently blogged and have also been frustrated by the people who think email is dead. The fact is, its the most intimate place you can communicate as a business or non-profit. Because it’s the one thing EVERYONE checks everyday. I blogged about this more and c/p the text from it:


    A recent study found that 58% of people start their day by checking their email.

    Think about that.

    More than half of people who sit down at their computer- the first thing they do is check their email. What’s my point? While social media is all the rage in the news, business magazines and conferences, e-mail still is relevant.

    If 58% of people start their day by checking their email, as a business, you should be there …in front of their face …consistently.

    I’ll be the first to admit, I drink the Kool-Aid. I’m a social media evangelist. I’m in love with this stuff. With a strategy, +good execution and lots of hard work, social media can do powerful things for people and businesses. However, from a digital marketing perspective, this statistic reminds us there is more to this online ecosystem than the all-mighty shiny objects like Facebook and Twitter.

    The bottom-line?

    Make sure you have effective e-mail strategies and tactics in place. E-mail is easy to measure. There is no questionable ROI when you talk about email. You can measure it. Your customers either opened the email or they didn’t. They clicked-through or they didn’t. The purchased something or they didn’t. And the best part about all this? The tools to measure and track this are not hard to put in place. Many advanced techniques and testing strategies exist like A/B testing, multivariate, and segmentation.

    So before you invest in a social strategy, make sure you reflect on all your digital strategies.

    First, do you have effective email tactics in place?
    What about search engine optimization and PPC?
    Then after that …what about social media? Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc.


  5. Tim Brauhn says:

    Greatly exaggerated, I’d say. Email is the best bet for the near future. Until I can, using the computer that I’ve installed in my head, compose a quick message and select recipients and send, all in the span of a few seconds, email is still the best thing.

    That being said, I have found myself in the last year using email for some pretty menial tasks, like emailing a file to print later or leaving myself meeting reminders in my inbox. Weird, but not dead.

  6. Pamela Grow says:

    In terms of nonprofit marketing, I’d say that that email marketing is in its infancy and hasn’t even begun to realize its full potential. It’s so rarely done right that it’s still difficult to measure its effectiveness.

    Good points by Ramsey.

    Direct mail isn’t dead yet either :-).

  7. To a large extent, what works depends on your audience, your purpose and the way you’re using the tools. As Pamela and Ramsey both noted, email isn’t being used as well as it could be by many nonprofits, so there’s a lot of room for improvement there, especially with Boomers and some X-ers (although I hate to use the terms). But if you’re trying to reach a bunch of younger people for advocacy purposes, you could be better off using Facebook.

    I don’t think that email will be dying anytime soon, but I think that we’re all having to get more sophisticated about what tool we use for which audience and for what purpose.

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