Plenty of Reasons Email is as Relevant as Ever

Every now and then, there is a discussion about where email stands as social network use becomes the "it" thing. We've all heard mutterings like, "email is dead" and "socia...
Plenty of Reasons Email is as Relevant as Ever
Written by Chris Crum

Every now and then, there is a discussion about where email stands as social network use becomes the "it" thing. We’ve all heard mutterings like, "email is dead" and "social media is killing email," but it’s just not the case, and there are plenty of reasons why (even if Google thinks it’s time to start over).

Do you think email is on the way out?
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Last year, we ran a piece titled 10 Reasons Social Media isnt’ Replacing Email that got a pretty good response from readers. In a nutshell (read the article for elaboration), these ten reasons were:

1. People still send hand-written letters
2. Nearly all sites on the web that require registration require an email address
3. Email notifies you of updates from all social networks
4. We haven’t seen any evidence yet that Google Wave really is the next big thing
5. Email is universal, and social networks are not
6. There are plenty of people who have no interest in joining social networks, but already use email
7. Email is still improving
8. Even social networks themselves recognize the importance of email
9. More social media use means more email use
10. As far as marketing is concerned, email is doing pretty well

At the Online Marketing Summit last week, there was an interesting session about email marketing, led by Joel Book, Director of eMarketing Education for email marketing firm ExactTarget. In that session among other points of discussion, he provided the following concept equations:

Email + CRM = lead nurturing
Email + CRM = Reseller education
Email + CRM = trade show follow up
Email + CRM = sales support for dealers
Email + analytics = Personalized recommendations
Email + analytics = live offers
Email + retail = product education
Email + retail = scannable coupons
Email + retail = subscriber acquisition
Email + social = driving demand
Email + social = using social forward to expand customer database
Email + sms = mobile immediacy
Email + SMS = lead generation
Email + sms = subscriber acquisition

Some things to think about.

Also at the Online Marketing Summit, WebProNews discussed the integration of social media with email, with Kara Trivunovic, Sr. Director of Strategic Services at StrongMail, who makes some great points.

Businesses are plugging in social aspects into email programs to not only expand the reach of their existing offers, but to turn customers into evangelists, and ultimately grow their databases, as she says. Keep in mind that about half of all content is shared through email, and social media can make for a great way to gain subscribers. According to Trivunovic, there are 3 major ways that people integrate social into their email programs:

1. Share with your network

2. Leverage as a medium to incentivize current customer base to evangelize on their behalf, and drive additional subscribers or awareness

3. Business model: acquiring customers through referrals

This article could go on for a long time, but let me just conclude with a few more points. Mobile apps will continue to keep email relevant in the mobile world (Google just acquired a popular one). Google recently released its own social media product, Buzz, which the company decided would fit best right in Gmail. Microsoft Outlook only recently started integrating social networks into the inbox (Mozilla has Raindrop to serve a similar purpose). The social networks themselves are creating email services (it didn’t take MySpace long to get a lot of users for theirs, and Facebook is said to be working on its own…and we know how popular Facebook is [it recently surpassed Yahoo as the number 2 site on the web]).

Tell us why you think email is here to stay or why you think it’s not.

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