According to the Wall Street Journal, “Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over.”
Wow. Should I alert my email marketing friends? Obviously I need to jump ship before I get too far down this road into this dying medium.
Now I know I shouldn’t get too worked up about this article, because folks have been trying to declare that email is dead for years. First, it was blogs. Then it was RSS feeds. Now it’s Twitter and Facebook. What do all of these communication venues have in common? Two things:
1. They’re wrong! (Hence the “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline)
2. You need an email address to use them!
(okay, maybe not RSS, but still, the argument is valid)
We all still use email, of course. But email was better suited to the way we used to use the Internet–logging off and on, checking our messages in bursts. 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.
There is one part of that hypothesis that’s correct: A host of new ways to communicate. In some cases, yes, faster.
But let’s face it, NO ONE is always connected. I have an iPod Touch, which allows me to check email, Twitter, and Facebook whenever I please. But I check those three things, respond as necessary, and shut off. Who is constantly connected ever? I’ll tell you who:
People on the phone. People meeting face-to-face. That’s connection.
Let’s examine how I use Twitter. I can imagine I’m not alone here: If I need a quick answer to something or am (sometimes, admittedly) grasping at straws, I tweet a question. If I get a response from the company or individual, I try to follow them. If it keeps going, it gets to DM level. Then when it gets substantive, it EVOLVES into an email string.
Notice I capitalized evolve. Twitter is quick, email is substantive. I consider email my “paper trail.” Whenever people ask me for things at work, I ask them to email it to me so I have a paper trail. It’s nice to have. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Now ordinarily, I wouldn’t be so out there with my displeasure about this, but there are two things that rile me up here:
1. This isn’t like the newspapers ignoring blogs and digital media and thus dying out (because their subscriber base is getting old and dying). Email is a growing media–maybe less percentage-wise than Twitter and Facebook, but that’s because the general email-having audience is HUMONGOUS compared to the shiny objects that are social media venues. Social media is in its infancy. Email is an established, viable, growing medium.
2. It’s in the Wall Street Journal. This is supposed to be a periodical that is on top of business topics. Clearly, given the near Twitter tutorial in a portion of the article, they aren’t on top of what’s going on. Twitter and Facebook have been around and popular for over two years–NOW the WSJ is giving the tutorial on “what’s new”? Seems odd to me.
What are your thoughts? I’ll compile any arguments for or rebuttals and place the links below.
A great counterargument for the WSJ piece is “Why Email Still Rules” by Jordan Cohen (my marketing brother from another mother). In his rebuttal, Cohen claims that email is entering its Renaissance Age, with social networking and smart phone driving more email usage as well as email getting a face lift with more capabilities. It’s a solid rebuttal; you should check it out.
Mark Brownlow has a solid opinion/rebuttal on the subject, too: “Three Years On and Still Going Strong”
Laura Atkins has a great rebuttal as well: “Email is dead…”
Anna Maria Virzi had this to say on ClickZ about “Why Facebook and Twitter Won’t Kill Email”
(As mentioned on the Bronto Blog’s “Best of the Blogosphere”)