Email Is Dead My Foot

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There’s a really annoying trait found in a lot of people today. Fortunately, I don’t suffer from this trait, and as a reader of this blog, it’s likely that you don’t suffer from it either.

That trait is a belief that technologies that currently exist have to die in order to make way for new technologies.

Case in point: How many times in the past few years have you heard some smarmy social media guru pronounce the death of email? 

Not long ago, Mark Zuckerberg himself proclaimed the death of email, according to an article in The Guardian. How did he choose to communicate this? By sending out an email, of course.

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If email didn’t already exist, and was invented today, it would be heralded as a “Twitter killer.”

It has the ability to send messages of practically any length — not just 140 measly characters — to an individual or multiple recipients. And you can actually specify who is included in an email message, and not just send it out to some entire list of “followers” (or subscribers).

You can find out if someone actually opened your message. With Twitter and Facebook, you have no idea who read your message.

And when you send a message, only the people you want to see it will see it. Every idiot with access to the Internet who can type in the word Facebook doesn’t get to see it. If they really wanted to see your messages, they could give you their email address and — if you wanted them to see it — youcould include them in the set of recipients! Effing brilliant!

In a world of increasing measurability and accountability, if email was invented today, it would surely be named TIME’s Man of the Year (because those idiots have yet to learn to create good criteria for the award).

But somehow or other, social media morons think Twitter and Facebook are superior methods of communication and that email is dead or dying. Go ahead, Google “death of email” and see how many links come up.

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At least one consumer study suggests otherwise, however.

A Journal of Consumer Marketing article titled Longitudinal Study of Digital Marketing Strategies Targeting Millennials reports on a study has surveyed Gen Yers over the past few years about their digital channel behaviors and attitudes. One of the interesting findings relates to advertising preferences:

“Respondents were allowed to select three types of advertising that they most prefer. An interesting trend was the substantial increase in Millennials’ preference for email updates. This mode of sending marketing messages was preferred by half of the respondents in the first year. By the third year, almost three-fourths of Millennials preferred email updates as a form of online advertising. This large rise in popularity caused email updates to be virtually tied with side-panel ads as the second most preferred method of online advertising.”

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Granted, there are some problems with this methodology.

If you asked me what my “preferred” method of advertising was, I would tell you it’s “silent and invisible advertising”.

And as a study designed to advise marketers on how to reach Gen Yers, the methodology falls short as well. Marketers shouldn’t be selecting an advertising method based on consumers’ stated preferences, but on the method’s performance.

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But we digress.

The fact that the percentage of Gen Yers that would actually state that they’d prefer to receive advertising via email updates has increased over the past few years is a vote of confidence for email.

If Gen Yers are less likely to use email to send a message like “Thanks.” or “OK.” in favor of social media channels, that’s not the “death” of email. That’s the “revitalization” of email, helping to rid of the channel of useless messages better suited to other forms of communication.

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