I live out in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, where the promise of new technology overshadows what drives marketing results, and legacy communication protocols like email tend to be undervalued. I found this article on the ubiquitous “email is dead” topic actually very well thought out (outside of the reference to email as the Cockroach of the Internet), and it conjured up a few additional thoughts on this subject. (I’ll also refer you back to an article I wrote in 2011 on the importance of an email address as “a primary piece of data… that will be used in the future to identify you as a unique person.” It’s good to review, as the basis of this discussion has not changed much.)
Many people believe that with the preponderance of social outlets and new generation of email-less children, email as a communication vehicle will change significantly or not even exist in the next generation. We used to argue that email isn’t important until you get a job, and then it’s forced into your life. Some even discourage the use of email in the work environment, some outright ban it, and there are new apps like “Holiday Email” that Daimler is using for its employees that simple delete all email sent while you are on vacation.
With all the naysayers about email, let’s change the basis of this decline prophecy and look at it through a marketer’s lens vs. a general trend level view of consumer email. People do and will continue to buy through email. Why? Inboxes have gotten a lot smarter, and marketers have gotten smarter and begun sending out more frequent and relevant content. There is still a large volume of traffic that is none of the above — yet there are thousands of brands around the globe that rely on email as their primary broadcast and sales channels. That will not change as long as email remains one of the most economical, ROI-driven marketing channels.
Email has become even more ingrained in your day-to-day routine due to the smartphone. You are tethered to your inbox everywhere! It’s easy to triage and manage many of your email accounts and do it on the run. For marketers, the good part is that they really never have an offline audience. The bad part is that the experience is still not optimal for shop, browse and buying type behaviors on a 6” screen.
I think being able to understand the context of a user by device, by content, and by daypart will be one of the most powerful behavioral pieces of information for the ad tech world going forward. That’s truly golden!. While email/mobile may not be the perfect mobile commerce solution for converting mobile users, in tandem with your ad targeting, this will be the data you need to bring audience management to life for cross-channel.
Although there is a lot of debate about the future of cookies, there is no denying the impact of retargeting driven from email and email-oriented pages on the Web. If you want to see evidence of this, go to any email service provider site (all of them do retargeting) and then watch their ads on all the obscure sites you visit. This, combined with intelligence, is a very powerful method to re-engage buyers B2C or B2B. It’s too bad that most brands have ad targeting in separate divisions from the email groups.