BIGfish President David Gerzof Richard recently spoke to CBS News about email marketing, which inspired us to consider the past, present, and future of email as a marketing tool. Is social media marketing poised to overtake email marketing? Or is email marketing here to stay?
A look at the numbers indicates that email marketing is a growing industry that isn’t going to die out anytime soon. At present, email marketing is a $1.5 billion dollar a year industry that is expected to reach $2.5 billion in the United States by 2016. Among adult Internet users, 92% use email, and roughly six in ten adults use email everyday. Coupled together, email marketing has become one of the most popular ways for brands to communicate with customers.
On the other hand, email marketing isn’t always used effectively. Retailers are sending 20% more email than they did a year ago, which often results in clogged inboxes, unread emails, and a failure to actually communicate with target audiences, leading to customer frustration. Take Paul Jones for example, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who gave up email on June 1, 2011 and hasn’t looked back.
“Email marketing was a great idea in the 20th century. But unless marketing is opt-in–with a way to easily opt-out once the client is tired of the relationship–email marketing results mostly in annoyance, anger, and brand fatigue,” he says.
Though you can’t reach him via email, it’s still easy enough to get in touch with Jones–just visit him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, or virtually any other social media site.
And Jones isn’t the only one who prefers social media over email. A recent Pew Internet study found that 76% of teens are on social media sites, but only 6% use email daily–and 39% say they never use email. With email use becoming less and less common amongst younger generations, will email marketing cease to exist?
“Will email die? That would be too much for me to hope for. Not so much die as morph into a better messaging platform or platforms that are mobile, faster, concise, and personal,” says Jones.
Email marketing isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon, but social media marketing will certainly be used increasingly often as a complement to traditional forms of marketing. And eventually, email may evolve into a different kind of marketing tool altogether.