With all the buzz around social media days, a popular topic amongst marketing professionals is “is e-mail dead?” As you might guess, the response you will usually get is: “ it depends.”And while that reply might appear as an evasive cop out, it really does hinge on many factors, such as the: audience, industry, organization, and brand.
Argument For Abandoning E-mail
The biggest argument for moving away from e-mail relates to when you are targeting the younger audience segment. They want to use channels most relevant to their daily lives and feel that e-mail is for their parents. Younger generations have a filter for the traditional advertising clutter. They have replaced e-mail with technology that is integrated into their daily means of communication, such as mobile and SMS. Younger customers want real-time access to relevant marketing messages that will save them money. Time has a way of changing what consumers want and need and e-mail lists become outdated almost as soon as they are created.
A recent report from ComScore revealed that e-mail use in 2010 among consumers ages 12-17 dropped 59%. It was also down 18% among consumers ages 18-25, and decreased 8% among consumers ages 35-44.
Argument For Not Abandoning E-mail
The key to successfully reaching young customers is to give them the opportunity to choose how to engage. Admittingly, the use of e-mail is changing as we see a distinct shift to social media platforms for our interactions. However, at this time, we still see e-mail as a primary communications tool for young consumers to engage professionally, educationally and socially.
One of the key benefits of social media platforms is highly customized content. For e-mail to remain a viable channel, it must enhance personalization and be a part of cross-channel interactivity with young consumers. As with any marketing campaign, it must continue to evolve to better meet the needs and behaviors of the consumers being targeted.
The Survey Says…
An article last November in eMarketer summarized the results from the TNS “Digital Life” survey of Internet users. As you can probably imagine, it showed that the use of social media continues to rise. It stated that the most popular Internet activity is still e-mail, with 72% of users checking their e-mail daily and only 46% using social media daily. However,it also showed that users actually spend more time online per week using social media—4.6 hours compared to 4.4 hours checking e-mail.
The Real Answer Lies Somewhere In Between
To maximize results of e-mail marketing, it should be integrated into a multichannel strategy that leverages the power of e-mail, social media, and traditional marketing channels. As marketing channels, such as social media, continue to evolve, the industry will always be looking for the next “big thing.” When creating a truly effective multichannel marketing campaign, it is important to remember that sometimes the old, reliable channels, such as e-mail, can be extraordinarily effective as long as they are appropriately adapted to the consumer.