Email is Dead

by | May 25, 2010 | Book Marketing Basics

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If you’re overwhelmed with email (as I am) you probably love this headline. Let’s face it, between emails from the International Lottery (“Congratulations, today is your lucky day! Send us $500,000 and you will get a check for $3M!”) and all the other crazy emails and spam you get, it’s getting harder and harder to decipher what’s real, what’s spam, and what should just be flat out ignored.

The Wall Street Journal just did an article on this topic. They discussed the benefits of using services like Twitter, Facebook messaging and on site email, and how social networking and instant messaging are overtaking the once popular way of communicating: email. They went on to say, “Email’s reign is over.”

So, is email dead, really? Well, not entirely, but let’s face it – with spam filters swallowing everyone but Tokyo and emails often stopping at the server’s wall, it’s tough to know what gets through and what doesn’t. The problem with this is its impact on email campaigns.

Our computers

Image by aranarth via Flickr

If you have recently done an email campaign and wondered about the success of it, consider this: it’s likely that only 5% of the emails actually got through. No, I’m not kidding. I wish I were. And if they did get through, how many people even bothered looking at them? And of that percentage how many made a purchase? AME’s Search Engine Optimization expert Susan Gilbert agreed, and said that most online promoters are now avoiding email for promotions because effectiveness and conversion are at all-time lows.

Keep in mind that while the Journal piece refers to individual emails, this is not what we’re worried about (although that does factor into the equation). We’re really talking about marketing campaigns based on email blasts. That’s where it starts to get sticky.

When we look at things like an email newsletter the open rate of newsletters in general has gone down. Is that because our readers have become less engaged? Doubtful. It’s likely because they aren’t seeing the newsletter in the first place. So what do we do with that? We post the newsletter on our blog so those who subscribe can see it without filtering through a zillion ad-based, junk emails. We also Twitter on it, which will then get exposure through our Twitter followers, the same with Facebook and, well, you get the idea. The new norm are these social networking sites which allow people to filter what they read and bypass the tricky email filters that don’t seem to work well, anyway.

The point is that as you’re looking for ways to promote yourself, don’t trust email to make you famous, make you a bestseller, or make you money. By all accounts, today email may be one of the worst ways to promote yourself and it’s only going to get harder. As new viruses come into our realm and hackers get craftier, spam filters and firewalls have to get tougher. This means that your outbound messages may as well sit in the outbox of your email.

A Twitter tweet

Image via Wikipedia

If you’ve got a campaign planned that depends on the success of an email getting through, consider revamping it and moving the model to something that is more dependable. Consider running tweets on your Twitter account, or try announcing your program to your Facebook Fan page followers or those who have friended you on Squidoo.

Alternatively, have you ever considered doing a postcard or print mailing campaign? Post office volume is at an all-time low and savvy marketers should be taking advantage of this decline in mail to use it perhaps for their own marketing purposes. Some of our biggest authors and clients were secured by mailer campaigns. When done correctly, they do pay off.

The bigger message to all of us is that we need to move away from antiquated marketing methods. It’s hard to think that email is antiquated, isn’t it? And when you compare it to using the good old postal service I guess that old saying is true: “What’s old is new again.” Fashions come back into style and marketing methods have seasons, too. I believe the season for email marketing has passed, at least for now.

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  1. Aggie Villanueva

    Some good thinking here. Thankx for the post. People truly are getting frustrated with overflowing inboxes. It’s so hard these days to get a large email subscription list. One thing that’s true, is when people actually give us their email address they expect value from us, not just updates of where we’re appearing, etc. But my it’s hard to build up that email list.

    I agree that people use social media instead to catch our new blog post, etc. I promote people and rely on the various social media for the most part.



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