Chapell & Associates

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It was an honor to participate in the Mediapost Email Insider’s Summit last week in Florida. I’ve seen a number of links to this event, and thought I’d offer some of my thoughts as an event speaker.

David Daniels of Jupiter shared some research he conducted – as did Exact Target, and Habeas. And the consensus is that people of college age and younger are not using email to communicate. And a panel of Ball State students corroborated the research findings by sharing their own experiences. So from what I could gather, everyone in the room of email experts recognized that ‘the kids’ aren’t using email very much. There doesn’t seem to be much disagreement here.

The kids aren’t using email – yet, none of the email-marketing experts saw this as a bad thing. And that surprised me. Most of the experts are taking it for granted that the kids will start using email as they enter the work force. I think that’s a risky assumption for anyone who is counting on email as their livelihood.

Where is it written in stone that email will be a prominent tool for business in perpetuity? The hand written memo was all the rage at one point. And my dad made most of his living by dictating memos to his secretary via the smith-corona typewriter. And later, added the fax machine. If we’ve learned anything over the past ten years, its’ this – the way business is done is subject to change. Email is not a final destination – it’s only part of the journey.

Even if email remains the dominant business communications tool, that doesn’t necessarily follow that email will be used for personal communications. It’s hard for me to understand why people who are 15-20 years younger than me – who have less invested in email as a communications tool than I do – will somehow stop using Facebook, SMS and other tools once they enter the work place. So even if forced to use email for business, the kids are going to continue to communicate with friends via other mechanisms. If if kids aren't using email outside of work, that's going to make things very difficult for advertisers trying to reach them via email.

I’m not saying email is dead. But I am saying that it will not be nearly as popular five years from now. And if you make your living in the email marketing ecosystem, you’d be wise to invest in alternative messaging tools.

Labels: ,

posted by Alan on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | |

© 2005 by Alan Chapell & Associates LLC