Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Web 2.0 vs. Email: Unnecessary Anxiety

So I’m reading Chad White’s post, Inbox Evolution May Force Facebook To Change Its Business Cards, and Morgan Stewart’s earlier post, Email Is Not Dead, But Preferences Need to Evolve, also, eMarketer’s What Is the Future of E-Mail?. I once again wonder: why is everyone in Email so concerned about social networks? It’s just not a big deal. Why do I think this?

Social networks *need* email. Like a drug. How do you register for them? Email. How do you get little notifications all day? Email. It’s the intermediary step between getting acquainted and total obsession with a social network: email.

The thing is that kids & web2.0 developers don’t think of it as “email,” they think of it like water, or air, or something they’ve always had and never appreciated. Sure, we may have seen an email usage trajectory going out the roof during the early oughts, and now it’s leveling, but I refuse to be all doom & gloom about the future of email. Every time I sign up for a new social site, or sit in a meeting with Web 2.0 developers and talk about functional features, email is a requirement.

Alternatives: Sure, we’d all like RSS to be the default newsletter delivery mechanism, but for most users it’s just not there yet. And even if it was, it’s not going to be the end-all that email is. Email is- like the college kid said in the Email Insider talk, “Free,” and limitless, moreso than SMS. SMS, even twitter, with its word length and quirks, just aren’t going to replace the foundation that has been set with email. It’s creating new users, it’s branching out in new ways to communicate, but it’s not wholly supplanting.

If we’re searching around for a fear, let’s think of this: is email messaging turning into a functional, transactional realm? Are the long conversations and threads gone? If standardization happens, which I hope it does, I bet a lot of HTML and image support will be further downgraded. We may have to re-conceptualize the goals of email based on its accepted use.

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Written on Thursday, 29. May 2008 at 12:08 In the category other_blogs, social networks. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Share on FriendFeed

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  1. Anna,

    I agree to a point, and I think where we have problems as an industry is that we refer to “email” as if all kinds are treated equally. Usually, the pundits complaining that “email is dead” are looking at promotional messaging which is where the money comes in from, and you are looking at response based messaging used by social networks. The two are not created equally.

    To me, the big shift we need is to stop thinking of “email” as anything other than a method of delivery for a written communication. As marketers, we need to focus on strengthening the “digital dialog”, which includes many channels, not just SMTP communications, but RSS, Blogs, Social Networks, Mobile, etc.

    Love your blog, read faithfully,

    Comment: Stefan Pollard – 30. May 2008 @ 9:44 am

  2. Hi Stefan-
    I see the disappearance of promotional email as a great thing. Basically if more of our messaging could be transactional, more one-to-one conversation with the customer base (as a corporate or business entity) that’s a good thing. And in all studies it makes more money, furthers the relationship, etc.

    Comment: banane – 30. May 2008 @ 11:11 am

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