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Email's Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

  |  November 7, 2011   |  Comments

Email is our digital fingerprint and needed for just about anything consumers do online.

It seems to happen every few months: a news story or pundit pronounces that email is dead or dying, and has been killed by the mobile phone, the social network, or even more nutty concepts like an increased desire for face-to-face human interaction. Well folks, email is not dying; in fact, interaction with social networks has only increased email volume. Social interaction has increased email volume so much so that Facebook recently said that it isn't going to send you an email every time someone pokes or messages you - something that you can adjust if you are really missing those friend request notifications. Email is not going away; it is our digital fingerprint and needed for just about anything that we do or may want to do online.

At my firm, we are constantly measuring email behavior. A study that we did last November of 1,001 consumers ages 13 and up found that 93 percent of online consumers check their email account at least once a day, if not more frequently (see the image below).

daily-email-usage

What is changing with email is that consumers are getting more messages than ever before and that email has become one of our favorite mobile applications. I wrote about this change last month, where as many as 66 percent of certain age groups are accessing their personal email account with their mobile device.

However, consumers are also getting smarter in masking their identity when it comes to email marketing. Unlike social networks, where consumers willingly and openly associate themselves with a brand by liking them, for email, there is no such digital tattoo for everyone to see. It is usually a much more private affair and only about 10 percent of consumers tell my firm that they share email marketing messages on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. But what consumers appear to be doing at a more increasing rate is maintaining a separate account just for marketing messages. A quarter of consumers tell my firm that they maintain a separate email account just for marketing purposes, and females are slightly more likely to do this at 30 percent. However, it is the younger individuals that are clearly onto this separation of personal and marketing space. As depicted below, roughly a third and as much as 41 percent of consumers ages 38 or younger do this.

dedicated-secondary-accounts

So what, you ask? What is the big deal about consumers maintaining a separate email account? As long as they are on your list, do you really care? Well, as this behavior increases, it may indicate that consumers aren't checking that secondary account as often, which may impact frequency routines. Additionally, it may be harder to match consumers who use a secondary address to their identity and behaviors in other channels such as social and Twitter.

Ultimately, if you are delivering relevant content and during the opt-in registration process you set clear expectations as to the value that the individual will get from your list, then there is more likelihood that they will keep you in their primary inbox. Regardless if it's primary, secondary, or mobile - email is here to stay and stronger than ever.

Until next time,
David

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Daniels

For more than 20 years, David has been an industry proponent. Direct Magazine said David is "one of the most influential experts in email marketing, if not the most influential." Co-author of "Email Marketing An Hour A Day," David has held senior level positions at Forrester and JupiterResearch, Apple, Anthropologie, MacWarehouse, Proteam, and retailers that dotted the early days of CompuServe. David advises many industry organizations including the OTA, DMA, eec, and has been a contributor to the Weekend Today Show on NBC. Learn more about connected marketing and download free research with registration here. Follow David on Twitter @emaildaniels and learn more at www.relevancygroup.com.

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