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Email Is Dead, Long Live Email. Let Us Know Your View

Sometime ago, I took issue with Ken Schafer (and Seth Godin for that matter) when they were reporting the death of email was a foregone conclusion. The truth of the matter is that it is not dead – or as Mark Twain once said "the report of my death was an exaggeration". Yet, the debate continues in terms of the role email will play in the future. 

We have to remain strategically sober to the fact that as the "net generation" becomes more prominent, email will likely be discarded as their parent’s technology. In due time we are sure to see instant messaging, RSS and other tools rule the day as primary communication vehicles.
Now contrast that with a recent study by New York-based Datran that asked U.S marketers to choose the most important media channel they plan to use in 2007.  An astounding 83% of U.S. marketers picked email citing the ability of email to drive incremental revenue, reinforce the brand position and improve customer loyalty.

Jen Evans wrote a great post on the state-of-email that I thought was bang-on the issues.  She touched on many great points both pro and con.  In my work, I have personally seen the direct impact of a well planned email strategy and know it is a highly effective tool when used properly to develop a dialogue and nurture relationships. And, it is also holds camp as an impressive ROI machine if you manage to harness its potential.

Now, before I create the wrong impression, I love RSS and IM too. I could not live without my feeds or Skype. Even Twitter is growing on me.  With RSS, I believe the power of what I want coming directly to me is simply brilliant.
That being said, RSS has not taken hold as fast as we thought it would with consumers – it has not realized the same growth curve and adoption rate as email. Consumers simply do not know what RSS is and marketers have not even begun to explain it or apply.  In fact, we marketers have not yet even found a "silver bullet" explanation for ourselves, let alone for consumers. And I’ve yet to see the database or revenue model applied as easily as it was with email.

So, is RSS and IM the future? Hell yes.  However, I adhere to what Shel Holtz is fond of saying, the notion that "new media don’t kill old media." And, I know most One Degree readers would agree with that as well.
So why am I here posting this?  Well, I will be moderating a panel of pundits for a CMA – Canadian Marketing Association Roundtable event on March 7 titled "Optimizing Email for Better Results" and I want One Degree readers to weigh in and help take the pulse on this topic.
What questions would you like me to ask the experts? The panel will include Sulemaan Ahmed, – Online Channel Manager, Sears Travel,  Scott Jamieson – Principal, SJR Digital,  Randy Litchfield – Partner, Inbox Marketer  and Tara O’Doherty –  Tara O’Doherty Consulting.

What are those critical issues and themes on the minds of marketers related to email? I hope we can tap into the wisdom, concerns, opinions and questions of One Degree readers and really make the roundtable as relevant and timely as possible.  I know for certain that if there is any audience that has a scoop on these issues, it is you. 
Tell me what you think the future holds for email. Leave comments here, or call into my podcast, The Client Side, at 1 206 666 2242 and chime in. Join the show and I will play your comments on my next episode as a set-up to the event.   
Please comment and help shape the nature of this important discussion. Call or comment. Don’t be shy.


  1. Jon Lax
    Jon Lax February 23, 2007

    While marketers may love email, I believe it is a declining channel.
    On a personal note we ditched our email for a blog. It is easier to update, we do it more frequently, it allows for a two way exchange of ideas. It has resulted in considerably more traffic to our site with far less work than our email list.
    Email will always have a role but it will evolve and change. What is important for marketers is to understand that user behaviour and technology aren’t static it is a constantly shifting landscape that requires you to constantly examine for activities and tactics.
    A tactic that was true at one point in time may not be at another point in time. This shifting landscape is difficult for large organizations who can take long periods of time to commit to a channel only to find that by the time they make the decision the envrionment has changed.

  2. Paula Skaper
    Paula Skaper February 23, 2007

    Bright Shiny New Object Syndrome.
    It’s an epidemic within the technology community (technology marketers included). I agree 110% with Jenn’s post. Email isn’t going anywhere. And I tend to be suspicious of new technologies that can only be sold by tearing down well established older ones – it sometimes means there isn’t enough meat for the new technology to stand on it’s own.
    Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of RSS, podcasting, blogs, mobile marketing and all the other harbingers of email’s looming demise. I just don’t believe that standing alone, any one of them can replace email.
    They’re a bit like the decorations on your Christmas tree – without the tree, all those bobbles are just a bunch of bright shiny objects in a worn out cardboard box. They sure do make the tree look good – but they need the tree to do their best work.
    The smart marketers are incorporating all of these tools into their online direct marketing toolbox. But like the boring old evergreen at Christmas, email is still the backbone – the core foundation on which these programs are built.

  3. Stefan Eyram
    Stefan Eyram February 26, 2007

    And I agree with Paula (and Jen). RSS is good. I use it and I find it helps me sort through the ever-increasing mass of information that I am interested in.
    But guess what? If you look through my saved feeds you will not find a single one that is for me, the consumer. They are all industry-related feeds such as,, and others.
    And if you look back to Ken’s post on Starwood’s email you will see they are also adding an RSS option to the consumer. But if you are not in the industry, whether you are aged 18, 28, 38 or beyond, you are unlikely to know what a feed or RSS is.
    Email is still the core online push channel.

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