The statement “email is dead as a marketing tool” is too broad to really take seriously, so let’s instead break it down into its components.
Email is dead for:
- People who receive huge amounts of email (high profile CEOs, entrepreneurs, journalists, etc). Note the recent trend to email bankruptcy.
- People under the age of 25. For many of them, the email inbox is just a spam holder. Facebook is where they do email.
- Any company who thinks sending out text-heavy, dense, irrelevant news updates is a good way to connect with people.
The email inbox is a high-stress environment. People are trying to get in and out in the fastest time possible. Only urgent/important messages cut through in this environment.
- Any company sending unsolicited offers, such as ‘10% of our latest range!’
Email is alive for:
- Short, meaningful interpersonal communication from trusted senders.
- High value, well curated, industry-specific news, links and information. See for example Paid Content’s daily newsletter or Jason Hirschorn’s Media Redefined (apparently, a daily must-read for Rupert Murdoch).
- Opt-in services that don’t overly fill their communications with advertiser messages.
I think in the next two to three years, email will become increasingly clogged and people will be looking for new solutions.
Google Wave anticipated that trend, but didn’t hit the right product notes. Expect a lot of innovation and investment to be focused in this area.