Email is dead. Long live……email?

by Marcy Hoffman on March 1, 2011

Mark Twain said: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal”.

Perhaps the same can be said for email.

I was listening to NPR while driving and caught the tail end of an interview with a young farmer. I wasn’t paying much attention until I heard the young farmer begin to state that email is so dead- no one uses it anymore. I gleaned that he uses Twitter, texting, IM and social media as his means of communication. And he stated this with absolute certainty.

So is email dead?

This is not new. Back in October of 2009, The WSJ wrote an article titled “The End of the Email Era” in which they touted the effectiveness of Twitter, Facebook and Google Wave. Not too prescient since Google has subsequently dropped Wave. And Facebook’s email system is a closed proprietary system (meaning you need a facebook email account to open the facebook emails sent to you). With open email systems, (InfoStreet’s StreetSmart’s email, Gmail, Yahoo) it doesn’t matter which system you are on, you can still ‘talk’ with everyone else. Closed proprietary systems are fine for people who need protection, like AOL and kids, but the rest should be able to hook in from anywhere they prefer.

On a recent blog from Small Business Trend, it was noted that eMarketer commented on new research from customer relationship marketing agency Merkel which found that, despite claims otherwise, email is still a marketing powerhouse, with 87 percent of Internet users checking their email daily in 2010. And that number has been steady over the past three years. Perhaps to kill the argument that social media is overtaking email, they also found that social media users are actually significantly more likely to check their email more than four times a day, and less likely to check infrequently.

There is one area where email is slipping and that is in personal communication. Texting is an easy way to shoot out a quick note (but, please not behind the wheel of your car) and Twitter is ideal for blasting to a huge group. “But when it comes to commercial purposes, email is still the top choice for receiving communications among all age groups. To illustrate that point, you have to look much further than Groupon. Email works because it’s simple, it promotes high relevancy, and it’s something all Web users can understand. Would Groupon have been able to build the same types of targeted email lists if they were distributing offers via RSS or Twitter accounts alone? No. Not everyone understands RSS or wants the hassle of creating a Twitter account. But email is a language that is familiar to all because we all have it and, as a result, it works.”

But, although acknowledging that email is far from dead, its success still depends on which provider you choose. As we have noted before, Yahoo and Gmail, providers of both free and premium services, really are too big to fail. By fail, I mean that email is not their core competency. Yahoo sends their free and premium emails from the same servers, causing serious problems for their clients. Google’s Privacy Policy for all its products, fails to guarantee their business users that their company’s information will not be used by Google to develop additional products.

Eagle Technologies, LLC, had been using Yahoo’s premium email service for the past 10 years,only to discover that their emails were being flagged as SPAM by a clients spam filters. Ignoring this problem wasn’t  an option and Eagle approached InfoStreet to assemble a solution tailored to Eagle’s unique needs.  Mia Copeland, VP of Contracts for Eagle, commented  “Using an exclusive business email provider, who specializes in business email coupled with their enhanced services, gives me the security knowing our reputation and service we provide to our customers will continue without interruption”.

There is a place for Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, IMs and the wide array of social media. But email will continue to be the primary method of B2B and B2C communication and like with so many services we depend on, its the who (provides it) that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Click here to read about what happened to Eagle’s emails and how you can make sure it doesn’t happen to your business.

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