Every morning I do something which you will probably find surprising for a marketer: I unsubscribe to emails. More than that, I actively block senders of unwanted emails and routinely delete undesired emails before I even start reading those that I do. You might wonder why it is that I get so much email I don’t want in the first place … and the main reason is that I still actively sign up to try new sites and get new marketing offers by email. Most times it is marketing curiosity rather than an actual desire to get an email which leads me to sign up for something – which means I may be doomed to repeat this morning ritual for a long time to come.
As marketers slowly turn to using social media as a greater part of their marketing, it is easy to think that the importance of email will start to fade. I believe it won’t. In fact, I think that social media in many ways is making email even more important because it is the glue that holds much of our personal interactions through multiple sites together. I have set up my email so that I only receive notifications and direct emails for the types of interactions most important to me. In a world where each of us is surrounded by ambient media, email is still the most direct form media (along with text messages).
Here are three reasons why I think the inbox is still the golden choice for not just interacting with people, but also vital to supporting the growing landscape of social media.
- Email represents a private “home base.” On most social networks there are two choices for your profile – you can make it private or public. Email is the one place where you can have both simultaneously, a public email that you can share with people, while still keeping your identity and private details mostly hidden.
- Notifications & alerts rise above the noise through email. If you use Twitter or Facebook or any other site, you can choose to get an alert sent to your email inbox when you receive a new message. For news topics (or self-Googling) you can set up a Google Alert to send you an email whenever your chosen topic is mentioned online. Together these types of emails successfully manage to cut through the clutter of online conversations and provide a direct path for you to get to the information you really want.
- It allows you to build a virtual archive of activity. Need to see an old interaction with someone or a product you ordered several months ago? Using email as a way to save all of your activities can be highly useful if you happen to need it at some point in the future. Even more importantly, most people have been using email for this purpose long before they signed up for relatively new services like Twitter or FourSquare.
- Use email to control content creation and posting. Services like Posterous use email as the central hub for posting content as well, something that is increasingly being used as an easy way to get content posted online. You simply write your content (such as a blog post) into an email and send it to a specific address for it to be automatically posted. This post was written and posted using Posterous for example.
There are likely other reasons why email will continue to be important – but as you build your next marketing campaign, one question you should ask yourself is how your target audience will relate to your message by email. For a base of consumers getting increasing better at ignoring you in all other channels, email may need to be your best tactic.