Last year, there was a headline in my local newspaper (I read it online, of course) that immediately caught my attention. Because it was nonsensical, I wanted to ignore it, and I was hoping no one else would see it. Unfortunately, it was picked up by every news service in the country, so you probably read it too. It proclaimed (smugly, I thought, because I’m a bit overly protective of email), “Email is Dead.” This was a quote, and it came from the COO of Facebook, so perhaps there was a small conflict of interest (uber-irony: they came out with their own email service soon after). A few months later, I read that Facebook was dead (which made me feel much better). Recently, the cover story of Wired Magazine stated, “The Internet is Dead”. Last month, I read that blogging is dead. I don’t know about you, but I missed these funerals somehow. I still use all of these tools every day, and I have a large audience using all of these tools everyday.
I love social media, and I think it’s a powerful engagement tool. But, your customers, prospects, and stakeholders communicate in a variety of ways. Some love Twitter, some Facebook, some even prefer (gasp!) direct mail. Which segment are you going to ignore? Which segment can you afford to ignore? Marketing today can’t simply revolve around your preferred communication style; you have to communicate in a style your customers and prospects like. Today’s common denominator of communication is still email.
Email is the original social media, it’s the core of social media, and, more importantly, email is how you monetize social media. Consumers in the United States use email as their primary communication vehicle and it’s their preferred choice when it comes to receiving marketing messaging. 95% of Internet users between the ages of 18 and 64 use email, and most of them use it several times per day, every day (more than half of you check it more than six times per day!). What about those 65+, you ask? An even higher percentage of Internet users 65+ use email and it’s the fastest growing age group. In most cases, it’s the sole reason they purchased a computer. At 75, they didn’t hop out of bed and buy a computer because they wanted to master PowerPoint that day (okay, at 75 they probably didn’t hop out of bed, period). They bought a computer because they want to communicate with their friends and family and email is how that’s done today.
Last year, Gallup did a survey and expected to find as people become more involved in social media, they become less involved with email. What they found was the opposite; more social media means more email. Just in the United States, more than 235 million people are sending and reading email, every day, multiple times per day. Can you ignore email? Is email really dead? Maybe you don’t need it after all, as long as you already have more than 235 million paying customers.