Email marketing is the girl you take home to meet the parents

I recently bit my tongue when told “you know, email will be gone in 5 years because of social media. We should rethink our marketing efforts.” This was a HiPPO, so not much I could say at the moment, especially since my tongue was, you know, bit. Thankfully, I have the Internet to help my passive aggressiveness.

Here are the disrupters people list when they say email will soon go the way of frosted-tip spike haircuts for middle school boys:

  • short-form blogging (by that they mean Twitter)
  • social networks (by that they mean Facebook’s Newsfeed, Wall, and Messages)
  • IM (I use gchat, Yahoo! messenger, AIM, and a couple more including an office-only messenger)
  • SMS
  • Wikis (howdy to my fellow Basecampers)
  • blogs
  • And my favorite reason, the teenage trend: “My angsty 15-year-old doesn’t use email. She uses Facebook and texts. Therefore, email will die.”

I was a 15-year-old for an ENTIRE YEAR (like most ages I’ve been through…). I didn’t use email much then because that’s when AIM was in control of my life. I didn’t really use email until sophomore year of college when I got a job (news reporter) that actually required email. I’ve written and received thousands of emails, and frankly, nothing compares.

Email is a dedicated open-system channel where I can preserve, sort, and share content quickly and easily with one person, a few people, or an entire list. I choose who gets into my inbox, and I have a spam box for those who anger me. I cannot do all these things with any other system. And what if Facebook comes out with a revolutionary new messaging system similar to how awesome Wave was? Um, no thanks. I mean, I’ll probably use it, but it’s not the same as email. In an interview I did with Deanna Zandt a while ago she made this point about why the open system of email – versus closed platforms like Facebook – rocks our socks:

“Email was built in a way that it just works. If I have a Hotmail address and you have a Gmail address I don’t have to download a plug-in so that we can email each other. It just sort of works.”

As a marketer, I love email. It converts better than most channels by far and away. It’s relatively cheap. You can remarket to the same email addresses time and time again (unless you do this to the point of annoying them and getting on their spam list – this reddit post is actually about an email I wrote and sent out, yikes!). You can segment lists and track performance quickly and easily. And, dare I say, it’s freakin’ simple. This is why Wave failed, and why future attempts to revolutionize email may fail – email is pretty great as is, and I’ve rarely come across a way to improve it. I’ve certainly never come across a suggestion that would fundamentally change email for the better.

I’ve directed email campaigns and email newsletters time and again because I see an amazing ROI every time. (Note: if your audience consists of angsty 15-year-olds, you may not want to use email, but I’d certainly test it. For this post, I’m assuming your audience is like mine – professionals who use email on a daily basis.)

Now that you have the why, let’s focus on the how. In another post.

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  1. […] teach you how to optimize your email marketing campaigns (something I promised in the last post) using a funnel. My colleague and good friend David Mausolf (who is an amazing marketing […]



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