I was sad to read about the death of Ray Tomlinson, the father of email, over the weekend and it got me thinking about where email is going as a marketing channel.
I’ve found that email is sometimes considered a digital channel and sometimes is considered far too established and old to be digital. Email certainly is digital but it does very much stand alone in its uniqueness as a communication channel. It’s not as simple as direct mail but has all the same strategic goals. It’s something that people still heavily rely on but get your email marketing wrong and you can do significant harm to your business.
I was speaking with someone just last week who said that email marketing was dying and it wasn’t appropriate as a channel anymore. ‘Where have I heard that before?’ I thought. I remember working in direct marketing ten or fifteen years ago and then people starting to talk about the death of DM and yet we’ve seen a resurgence in recent years. We used to get tons of junk mail but now we tend to get less and more targeted DM. That’s what the goal has always been.
I see email heading the same way. We still get a lot of junk email but as more companies start to build strategic contact strategies, start to use smart tools such as Exact Target and Responsys and start to simply be cleverer about how they use the channel, the more we will welcome those promotional emails.
I hate spam but I love getting an email from a company about a product or service I’m interested in at that point in time. It helps me so why wouldn’t I welcome it.
If we as marketers continue to think smarter and move away from the broadcast mentality then email will have many more decades of success left.