Email Communication Still Rules

The Wall Street Journal had an article yesterday “Why Email No Longer Rules” about the slow demise of email, which is giving way to text messages, Facebook, Twitter and other communication channels.

But is that true?  I think not.  The article states, “In August 2009, 276.9 million people used email across the U.S., several European countries, Australia and Brazil, according to Nielsen Co., up 21% from 229.2 million in August 2008.”  A 21% increase seems to me that email does still rule, even if other channels are increasing their share of traffic.

This isn’t a horse race with only one winner.  What is happening and will continue to happen is that people and companies will begin to segment their messages and target audiences by communications channel.  You may make a new business connection using a 140-character Tweet, but it’s likely that you will build the relationship with a deeper discourse that email – and the old-fashioned letter – allows.

Also, there will always be an element of the consuming public, possibly your target audience, that isn’t jumping on the social media bandwagon, at least not now.  They don’t want to be force fed with small bites of Tweets.  They will stick with old-fashioned email, thank you.

So let’s not count email out yet.  Remember, the pundits predicted the demise of direct mail with the emergence of the Internet yet we’re all receiving more catalogs than ever before. Companies like L.L. Bean and Chico’s know that relaxing in your easy chair while thumbing through pages rich in color and photographs still holds a lot of appeal. Not that these companies expect you to fill out the tip-in order form.  Their purpose for sending the catalogs has changed:  they have learned that after browsing and earmarking pages, you will go to your computer to place an order online.  See, you can teach old dogs new tricks, but don’t count out what’s working well, like email and catalogs, just yet.

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  1. I was at two local networking meetings this morning. The first presenter (I was the other) at the first meeting discussed the up surge in use of telephone calls as a way to stay in touch.

    Hand written notes used to be the most personal and effective way to stay in touch with prospects, acquaintances, customers, etc. Now with the proliferation of emails as the dominant business communications medium, she claims a personal telephone call just to say hi is back in vogue.

    Your comments?

  2. Thanks, Mikey, for your comments. I believe — and my good friend, Andrea Nierenberg who has written three books on networking believes — that the personal touch is very important. We both feel hand-written notes are very welcomed and, from a marketing standpoint, stand out from all the emails everyone is getting. A personal phone call is positive, too, except that it is so difficult to actually connect with busy people.

  3. Hi Jeanette – got your post through LinkedIn –

    My feeling is that newsletter email is going away and will be replaced by a tweet with link to the blog, or post with link to the website.

    And that email is not used with a younger demographic hardly at all. As this younger demographic gets older – you will naturally see less emphasis on email. The 20-somethings right now use Facebook as an email-type system.

  4. They are saying direct mail is dead too. Yet I have clients who are doing well with direct mail. I have clients doing well with email, blogs, twitter, traditional ads, TV etc.

    All channels work if you know how to work them, and knowing how to work them is the key. The rules of the direct marketing business, whether push or pull, whether attraction or interruption marketing, are pretty much the same. Follow them and your chances of being successful are pretty good.

    And of course find out the channels your customer/prospects/suspects like and test, test, test.

    Jim Gilbert, CEO
    Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc