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The Decline of E-mail and the Future of Electronic Marketing


If teen Internet use is any indication of the future of Internet communication (and I would surmise that it is), it would seem that e-mail is on the way out. In a recent article published in the Miami Herald, author Rachel Leibrock explores the way Generation Y uses the Internet and her results are not surprising. She references a pair of 2007 studies that found that, “while 92 percent of surveyed adults said they regularly used e-mail, only 16 percent of teens made it a part of daily life…” So teens are shying from e-mail—where, then, are they going?

The studies found they’re moving to more instant and mobile means. Text messaging, instant messaging and social network site messaging are all increasingly becoming a part of the daily lives of teenagers.  Messages via these mediums require near-instant attention—it’s far easier to ignore an e-mail in an inbox than a bouncing IM icon on the dock.  Even here at DigitalDay, we’re all connected via Skype.  Its instant message feature has proved invaluable for our interoffice communication.

E-mail is still useful, albeit in a different capacity.  E-mail serves as a way to keep an official time-stamped record of communication. The “CC” feature is a convenient way to include people on projects who may not necessarily be involved but still have an interest in the status of the project.  It also functions as one of our primary ways of contacting clients.

While e-mail hasn’t gone the way of the buffalo just yet, what happens when Generation Y takes their Internet habits with them as they age into certain target market demographics?  What does this mean for the future of e-mail marketing?

Shar VanBoskirk, senior analyst at Forrester Research, a technology consulting and market research company, explains that, “…the focus becomes less on sending out as many messages as you can and instead on running analytics to figure out whom you should be sending messages to, or tech integration so that your e-mail program is better aligned with your customer service or your database marketing efforts.”

As people grow increasingly less dependent on e-mail as their primary form of electronic communication, the future of electronic marketing lies in brains, not bulk. Dynamic elements such as Quova’s geo-targeting will become even more crucial in marketing towards certain demographics. Geo-targeting makes an e-mail relevant to a certain location, enabling the marketer to pinpoint the target’s location down to the zip code.  Testing e-mail blasts and tracking clicks will help electronic marketers find the most effective applications of their strategies.

E-mail marketing will spread past e-mail, thinks Ken Magill, a media watchdog for DIRECT magazine.  Cell phone text messaging services already exist and will probably expand in the future.  Marketing via social network sites may very well be a possibility.

No matter which medium the majority of consumers decide to embrace, one thing is certain: effective marketers will adapt and use relevant content and advanced technology to stay ahead of the curve.

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  1. August 12, 2008 at 6:19 pm

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