Larry Brauner
I read an excellent article this afternoon in the Wall Street Journal by Jessica E. Vascellaro about the declining role of e-mail in our day-to-day communication, as services like Twitter, Facebook and lots of other social networking sites continue to grow in popularity.

According to Ms. Vascellaro, we obviously still use email. However, email was better suited to the way we used the Internet in the past, when we’d go online intermittently to read our messages.

“Now we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.”

E-mail MarketingIf more of our attention is being directed toward social media and away from email, is there a future for email marketing?

The success of email marketing depends on our ability to efficiently reach our target markets via their email inboxes. As people increasingly turn to social media, and internet service providers apply more aggressive spam filtering, email marketing becomes less viable.

Just last night, a friend messaged me on Facebook saying that she was “shifting over from an e-newsletter to blogging,” and that she was looking for a little advice.

Email marketers want to know how to react to the trend toward social media and social marketing.

Advice for Email Marketers

Here are seven tips for coping with the decline in email communication:

  1. Act Now - Don’t sit on the sidelines like your old media friends. There are still plenty of newspaper publishers scratching their heads wondering what they’re going to do about their failing businesses.
  2. Diversify - Adopt a variety of new social marketing channels, but do not discontinue your email marketing campaigns. Build on your past successes.
  3. Stay Cool - Don’t overreact. Email communication isn’t going away any time soon. Gradually make adjustments and find the allocation of resources that delivers you the best ROI.
  4. Learn Social Media - There are many social marketing resources and a fairly steep social media learning curve. Either make social media training a priority for yourself and stick with it or find someone to whom you can delegate or outsource all or part of it.
  5. Learn SEO - Learn search engine optimization as well, or again, delegate or outsource it.
  6. Keep Testing - Just as you’d test different lists or advertising copy, test different social media venues and content to determine what works for you, and what doesn’t. Be flexible.
  7. Get Help - Even if you do decide to educate yourself, look to social media and web marketing experts for help along the way. Their guidance will save you much time and money in the long run.

I still use my email autoresponder to communicate with many of my blog subscribers. However, email accounts for only 2% of my total blog traffic. Google, Entrecard and Twitter combined account for about 80%, and all other sources add to the remaining 18%.

I will have more to say on email marketing and on list building in future articles. I suggest meanwhile that you read List Building Paradigm Shift which I wrote at the beginning of the year.

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20 Responses to “Is Email Marketing Dead?”

  1. Debbie Morgan on October 14th, 2009 11:16 pm

    Hi Larry!

    Thanks for keeping this simple for us. I mainly use social marketing, although I’m not very good at it and email marketing has proven not to work very well for my industry, so SEO is very important to my web site’s success.

    Thanks again.

    Deb

  2. Sandra on October 15th, 2009 1:02 am

    Excellent article. I believe the demise of email marketing was inevitable considering the amount of spam that everyone was forced to deal with. I have found that more people now keep their email addresses private… they only enter them on sites where they have already developed a sense of trust.

    You’re so right, social media IS more fun. Reading email can be pretty boring, even if you’re a speed reader.

    Plus, blogs and social media provide us a way to instantly interact with other readers, exchanging our opinions of what we have read… email couldn’t provide that.

  3. Ben Williams on October 15th, 2009 8:16 am

    Hi Larry,

    Good post. I would have to agree that social media is growing, but I still use email marketing as well.

  4. Jonathan Wong on October 15th, 2009 9:33 am

    E-mail marketing is not dead. It has evolved. Gone are the days when you can spam people with great offers and expect readers to engage; you’ll need robust content that grab readers’ attention.

    The important question for us is not whether e-mail marketing is dead, but rather how can we enable social media channels, blogs, and e-mails together as a combined force, to optimize our inbound marketing efforts. I’ll talk about that in my blog.

    Thanks!

    Jonathan

  5. Larry Brauner on October 15th, 2009 12:03 pm

    @Sandra - Blogging is a blast. Bet hey, we’re preaching to the choir.

    @Jonathan - I’m with you completely. I don’t believe that email marketing is dead. As you say, there has to be more emphasis on the “marketing” in email marketing, and marketers need to develop synergies between email and other channels.

  6. Dr. Lisa Van Allen on October 15th, 2009 5:37 pm

    Hey Larry - You are right on with your comments. I was relieved to see you encourage your audience to continue e-mail campaigns, test to see what works, and combine with social media. That is, IMHO, the best of all worlds.

    Testing is the part I see most of my clients failing to do. How do you know what is working? How do you know what your audience wants? Tracking clicks and opens and responses is essential to keep your marketing current.

    Keep up the good work!

    Dr. Lisa (@LisaVanAllen - “the Biz Doctor”)

  7. David Alexander on October 15th, 2009 9:36 pm

    Email marketing is growing rapidly i.e. companies and organizations still believe in it. I say this probably with a bit of bias, because my company offers the first environmentally-focused email marketing platform, called Green Wave Email Marketing (see Green-Wave-Email.com). It is a proven platform since 2005 and now has collaboration, encourages carbon neutrality, creates and shares community with the green space (e.g. ShadesOfGreenNetwork.com).

    Is email marketing effective? It is different than blogs and RSS because it is a self-contained message, look, and feel. Some people want that, for some kinds of messages.

    I would also say we need to break it down into types of “marketing”:
    * unsolicited, spammy, and aggressive — it might work somewhat, but is not how I would do things; I like to sleep at night
    * information sent by an organization with which you have had some interaction, to let you know more about what they are doing or selling etc. — more likely to work and less likely to offend
    * a subscription that the user asks for, such as an industry trade e-newsletter. This is still “marketing” because it keeps readers engaged and helps promote awareness of new or other products they may not know

    I read a number of newsletters (selected articles) on an on-going basis. And, sometimes I just don’t want to interact. Just send me the information in one place, please. Other times, I really enjoy the interactions and community.

  8. Tina T on October 16th, 2009 8:58 am

    I have found myself using social media over email more and more. My emails were more of a newsletter format, so this has worked well for me. If there is a specific offer that you are promoting with a timeline and an immediate call to action email seems to be well suited to those situations.

  9. Steve on October 17th, 2009 8:34 pm

    I think it’s a both/and versus either/or. Especially when you have a well done e-newsletter, it can complement your blog beautifully. That way, you have a relationship with the people the newsletter is going to. If they have opted in to your e-mail list, and you have built trust with them, your readers should have no problem with e-mail marketing, and it will only serve to reinforce their contact and relationship with you.

  10. Karl Sutton on October 18th, 2009 11:14 am

    Great article Larry. I agree. E-mail marketing is not as effective as social media marketing and SEO. According to ConstantContact.com, the average open rate for e-mail marketing campaigns is 30% and the average click-through rate is 10%. However, although open rates and click-through rates are normally low it is still important to include e-mail marketing in the marketing mix.

  11. Kaye on October 25th, 2009 11:01 am

    Email marketing is my preferred way of selling products coming from the affiliate programs that I have signed up with. It just takes time to get a good mailing list.

  12. Larry Brauner on October 25th, 2009 11:28 am

    I do wonder Kaye, whether in the future list owners will see gradually declining open and click through rates as alternate forms of communication become more popular.

  13. My Top 10+ Blog Traffic Sources on January 26th, 2010 11:03 pm

    […] Entrecard is Gera from Uruguay, owner of the Sweets Foods blog. He and I are now also connected by email, Facebook and Twitter. As with all other traffic sources, to benefit from Entrecard you’ll need […]

  14. IT on March 25th, 2010 9:22 am

    I’m definitely convinced that email marketing is not a dying marketing method. Working as Email Marketing manager I know that creating a very good email you may have a high open and convertion rates.

  15. Robert on August 1st, 2010 4:45 pm

    I definitely believe that email marketing is here to stay. One thing that people worry about is their list does open messages (lower than about 20% open rate). The way to overcome this is to re-email the people that didn’t open the first time the same message with a more aggressive subject line. Then repeat this once more. Also, like you mentioned it is incredibly important to test, test, test!

  16. Jon on August 18th, 2010 3:04 am

    Thanks for the very informative post. Very interesting discussion. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have definitely changed my marketing strategy, and I’m still not sure how an email marketing campaign will factor into future efforts. All the information on this topic is much appreciated.

  17. Gevril Group Launches Social Media and Web Marketing Initiative | Online Social Networking on November 28th, 2010 7:15 pm

    […] Marketing - We’ll email press releases, and news about products and events to our email marketing […]

  18. LingZ on December 3rd, 2010 9:30 am

    Hi sir Larry,

    Thanks for this info. Well I never thought that e-mail marketing today is declining. I’ve been a fan of social networking sites. But I believe e-mail today is still the best and effective for e-mail marketing.

    Speaking of Social networking, here is a site about update all social networks it is a site where you can find the simplest and effective way to get your message out to your customers. It is the easiest way to communicate to your customers.

    I think both ways e-mail marketing and social network marketing are effective.
    Keep going.

  19. Tony on January 20th, 2011 11:30 am

    Great tips. This will be something I can always refer back to. I was reading through the other comments and I have to agree that email marketing just has to evolve. I think it has but there are always walls that we’ll run into. We just have to climb over them.

  20. Direc EmailMarketing on March 28th, 2011 8:20 am

    Email Marketing is still alive; I can proof this. If you’ll follow all the rules of right email marketing - all your emails can be a powerful marketing weapon.

    I can suggest one of my deliverability guides for you to read: en.direct-inbox.com/deliverability-guide.html

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