Is Email Going To Die?

By Yaro Starak
30 Comments

What is the one tool that every marketer recommends and uses no matter their specialty?

It’s email.

If you teach facebook, podcasting, youtube videos, blogging, twitter, pinterest, linkedin, or media buys, PPC, joint ventures  – whatever the front end traffic tool, everyone states that capturing your visitor on to an email list is the smartest option.

Why? Because the list gives you a mechanism to stay in touch with your reader when you want to.

It also helps to prequalify a person as more than a casual visitor. They become a “prospect” when they opt-in to your newsletter requesting something and are willing to give you a little bit of attention in return.

But wait! – Why can’t you do that with all those other marketing tools?

Media FragmentingIsn’t facebook or a blog or a youtube channel enough? Why do we need to add email to the equation?

It’s because of how people consume email. It’s a “push” mechanism, which means the content is pushed to the person.

Most of the other tools are “pull” based marketing mechanisms. That means a reader has to make the choice first to go to the place where you content is and find it. It’s not pushed on to them, it’s pulled by them.

Take this article you are reading now for example. You might have come to my blog today because you decided to go to your RSS reader of choice, or your bookmarks in your browser to catch up with the latest blogs in your industry.

Maybe someone you follow or are friends with tweeted or shared this article on facebook. It then appeared on your updates wall or feed when you were paying attention to these social tools during the day.

Or the more likely reason, I sent you an email via my newsletter, which at some point in the past you subscribed to. My newsletter linked to this article, you clicked it and came here to read it.

My statistics show that 80% of the people who reads this article will come from my email newsletter.

Many marketers will report back similar data. Email drives more traffic than any other tool they have, even if they use all those other tools in the first place to attract people on to their newsletter.

Why Is Email So Responsive?

Email is effective because it is still the internet service we pay attention to the most.

When email first came into our lives we loved it. That little “ding” noise when a new message arrived was exciting because just the act of receiving a message was exciting.

Of course after a few years spam and the sheer volume of messages we received made email something that wasn’t quite as exciting as it used to be.

Still, it matters.

Why? Because our friends, family and lovers email us.

We get messages relating to personal things in our lives that are most important. Emails tell us we have made money, or we have a message on an online dating site saying someone likes us, or we were outbid on an item at ebay we desperately want.

We get emails telling us that our home loan was approved, that a band we like is playing a show in our hometown, that the latest smartphone is going to be released next week, or that a new movie based on the book series we just finished reading is being made.

These things are important to us, hence email remains important.

Is Email Dying?

You might argue that email is not as necessary anymore and is being superseded by other tools.

From a marketing perspective you can send traffic directly from facebook or adwords or from retargeted banners on other sites straight to your offer and skip email altogether.

Sometimes these tools do enough relationship building for you and they reach enough people that you profit.

However, in nearly every situation I come across, if something is working without email, it will work even better with it.

Sure you can buy traffic on LinkedIn’s PPC platform and send that traffic straight to your resume writing service and ask them to buy and make some sales.

Chances are though, if you send them first to an optin offer to provide a series of free videos and then stay in touch via email, long term you will make much more money.

There are many reasons why this is, but at the heart of it, the same justification I mentioned earlier is responsible – people pay attention to their email.

The only question that matters as an email marketer if we are worried about this medium going away, is when will people stop paying attention to email?

That’s a tough question to answer, but the trends that hurt email have been there for a long time and continue to show up.

The first one we covered already – just too many emails coming at you makes every message less valuable.

Other developments like google’s recent change to gmail adding tabs where messages are automatically filtered away from the inbox is another example that will hurt open rates.

However the biggest potential threat is something coming along that is just better than email. Surprisingly, nothing has show up yet or we’d all be using it, but there are certainly tools today that we use now that email used to handle for us.

And most of them are on the mobile platform…

Fragmentation Of Attention

What we need to look at is how people spend their time, or more specifically – how they spend their attention.

Take a look at your own day online.

How much time is devoted to your email vs facebook or youtube or other social platforms or music or all the other things you can do online?

Here’s an even better question – what gets your attention immediately and why?

How about a text message on your phone?

Or what about a push notification from an app on your phone, which might be an email notification but could also be facebook, or twitter, or a real estate app, or a game, or instagram, or snapchat, or countless other apps.

What’s interesting is these are also “push” tools – they are even called push notifications. You have to say yes to have them pushed to you, but once you do they grab your attention just as rapidly as a text message does.

In many ways these mobile push notifications are even better than email was in the glory days because you take your smartphone with you. That’s one thing you could never do in the PC era.

Since internet access is dominated by smartphones today, what is pushed to your phone is potentially the biggest threat to email, or perhaps the biggest opportunity to diversify into.

Although email still works, what might be the smartest question to ask right now as a marketer, is what do you have available on the mobile platform that will make a phone emit that “ding” noise and grab instant attention just the way email used to?

If your answer is only email, it is time to start diversifying.

That might mean developing an app of your own, or publishing a magazine in the newsstand as I wrote about in my last article, or making sure you are on top of social media so your notices on facebook and twitter show up on people’s phones.

Whatever the case, email is still the dominant platform and works just as well on mobile as it ever has. However, what we may be seeing more and more of is the fragmentation of attention away from email for certain activities.

Email used to handle everything, but now you go to the AirBNB app for notices about your accommodation, the OkCupid App for dating, Facebook for your social life, text messages for your closest friends and family, flipboard for your news, and so on and on.

As I recently read in the book “Killing Fairfax” on my Kindle, the one constant with media and publishing is fragmentation.

It appears that might just be the same with email.

Email will still be around in the years to come, but we won’t use it for nearly as many things. Instead our attention will be distributed across a variety of niche tools that handle each specific aspect of our life better.

As a marketer, I suggest you make sure you don’t have all your eggs in one basket as the fragmentation continues, or like the newspaper industry, you might find yourself with a much smaller audience as time goes by.

Yaro Starak
Diversifying

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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30 Comments

  • hi Yaro,

    It looks like after the latest G-mail updates, email takes back the importance it deserves…

    I believe email is not going to die, more than probably it’ll evolve into something better over time

    As you say, email is not going to be used as it was before, but for specific reasons. So our mission is to enhance our approach with email marketing and at the same time diversify the channels we use to communicate with readers, subscribers and customers, is it?

    Best!

    • Dieter

      I agree. Google’s improvement of its gmail service, addressing the dire need of classifying incoming mail by the service, rather than by the user, has reactivated my usage of it. Sure, newsletters from all sites I follow are now in another tab than the primary tab. But on the whole, gmail is back in business. The internet marketeers using mail as their prime instrument can only benefit from that.

      Besides, I think a person can only truly follow a few influential people. I’m following Bret Victor, Paul Graham, the Numenta/Grok people and Yaro. This is reflected in my tweetdeck. Today I came here triggered only by the thought “what would Yaro have to say?”

      Keep up the good work!

  • Based on my own opinion and on what I’ve understood after this article, no, email isn’t going to die. It’s like staple food for marketers.

    Another good example of why we can be sure email is not going to die is users behavior toward Facebook messages. Upon checking their accounts, most users would likely open their messages first than their notifications and friend requests.

    Does that imply Facebook messages can replace email? No. Contacting your subscribers through their emails is more proper and sincere.

    Anyway, I like the push and pull principle. It is an easy reminder of email lists’ importance.

  • mike morrell

    I expect e-mail to become much less important. It already is for me. I communicate with close personal contacts via FB, whatsapp, SMS. Work contacts take place more and more via blogs, forum groups (with DM) and twitter.

    So e-mail has become just like a twitter stream (also push). Ever more sophisticated filters and lists allow me to focus on the 5%-10% of e-mails that interest me.

    There is a big difference between ‘being on an e-mail list’ and being positively/actively engaged with the e-mailer.

  • In my experience doing business online, email is still the best way to connect to your audience especially longer term. It is personal like you can go inside someone’s house.
    Once they continue to read and happy with your email, it’s only a matter of time your subscriber will be your customer and loyal fans.

  • Email still stands as my main crux for communication. One thing people who think e-mail is on the decline forget that they need email to sign up for their social media accounts.

  • Dan

    I haven’t been following the IM, MMO and MMB training industries that closely in recent times but it’s odd to me that I can’t find any of the shamans promoting an SMS marketing course.

    Bundle the training course with a white label text messaging platform and you should end up with a nice passive income stream.

    So Yaro, offer up to your email subscribers a good incentive each month, like a chance to win an Ipod, Kindle, Ipad, one of your products in exchange for their mobile phone number and address or get left behind in the internet marketing ice age.

    In the future you would be able to engage or market to your leads and customers the high tech way through text messaging or the low tech way through telemarketing and mailings.

    Of course this idea should be used by any marketer out there since micro lists of mobile phone numbers could prove to be very profitable.

  • I believe that email is still and will be the most powerful marketing tool for years. Social media is crushing lately but email will always be the king and my favourite tool.

  • I have seen some people simply give up on their email.

    It’s like their inbox won.

    I was lucky early on to get exposed to massive mounds of email.
    The overwhelm caused me to study how the most effective people manage their mail.
    I was surprised by what I learned.
    So many things are counter-intuitive, and non-obvious.

    For example, one of my managers simply archived all of his email as he read it. His system was perfectly flat. Yet he could find everything fast. He didn’t always remember the punchline, but he remembered who told the joke — so he would just sort his mail by sender and quickly pull up the mail.

    Ironically, people that used a bunch of folders both made it harder to find things, and slowed themselves down when processing mail.

    For me, the biggest insight was when I finally realized that email was a stream of *potential* action. My best move was to pluck out the actions into a simple list, so I could manage my email more effectively. Otherwise, it’s just paper shuffling.

    Normally, I would never think things like email could ever die, but we are in a pay-for-play world. There are economic factors at play. Mostly though, it’s a usage issue. If people don’t use it, we’ll lose it.

  • Glen Gerson

    Email is still considered to be the most easiest and fastest way of communication. I consider email communication a great way to spread information about the company’ s launch of new product or services.

  • Another great post Yaro. From the influx of a number of great email tools simplifying things (like Gmail’s built in tab features, among many other private tools) I believe that it will become easier for anyone to become a high powered email marketer. Whether they are marketing themselves for a new job opening, staying in touch with contacts or, of course, reaching out to potential clients via an email newsletter or casual communication. I would like to see you cover a step-by-step review of marketing over a specific social media outlet in the future.

  • I don’t think email is going anywhere soon. If you look at how integrated email is with our phones, laptops etc. I think the world loves to check email and will love it for a long time to come. Its a nice way to “put things off”, I know. it sounds bad, but sometimes I prefer to get an email from someone rather than having to spend time on the phone with them.

  • I think email will continue to evolve, might not look the same in a few years but will still have the same function. Getting people to read emails is another matter!

  • That makes magazines very interesting.

    Will they be the new blogs – with the added advantage of email (push notification)?

    Very worth thinking about.

    • Teej

      Smile. I’ve always seen it the other way, that blogs are the new magazines…

  • Just looking over my own browsing history in my gmail, since Gmail has removed and placed all emails in this new box, i actually pay more attention to them and look through them more than when they simply arrived in my inbox.

    The reason for this is simple

    MY INBOX IS NOW EMPTY!!!

    I go through my main emails in like 2 mins and then i have to just peak and see what is in the promotions folder.

    And heres the best part.

    The ones i dont read simply dont get hit with the spam button – which means they can simply send a new email out with the same content but just change the headline to see if it works.

    I think email will still be important and probably be more effective since people will be forced (Through curiosity) to see what is in that folder, before people would just select “all” untick which emails were important and hit delete, now they scan through all those emails

    • You make some good points Annonymous, I’m not sure everyone will treat like you have, but so far my open rates are no less so maybe people are doing what you do.

      Yaro

    • Ruthmarie

      Interesting… You are describing what has happened for me. I’m getting more out of the promotions now that they have been separated out of the “pile”. I’m also able to sort through the promotions and social media faster. Its made email MORE relevant for me.

  • I’ve always been behind in the technological world, but even since I bought my first smart phone, I still barely use it. I am still at my laptop computer all day, and many times I don’t even bring my phone with me when I leave my house. I always check my email first, throughout the day, and at the end of my day. Of course I delete emails I know are spam first, open important emails second, and then open the emails I find interesting or helpful to me last, but I won’t delete them if I think they’ll be interesting or helpful to me… even if I never get around to reading an email I want to read (but don’t need to) I will never delete it, and I can always click the button that shows me only unread emails so my interesting/helpful emails can pop up when I have some extra time to check them out. So while I may be behind in the technological world, I think that just the fact that I prefer email over everything else, also means email is still at least somewhat important to most people, important enough to not stop using it. Most emails we get that don’t end up in the spam folder are from someone we know, or someone we gave our email address to at some point, so we still want to check our email. It seems like most people communicate via text or fb, but everyone still checks their email probably daily, even if they don’t need to, just in case.

  • Hi Yaro, u scared me man with that title… I just found out about affiliates and email marketting (yes i am new ) in fact I will start selling my won product in a few weeks (I have a tiny email list ) and U R telling me that email is dying !!!:( … thank god that is not true…. it is evolving and a smart person can make that change for his/her benefit . Anyway, people join email lists cus they WANT to know what u say so they will open ur emails as long as u provide good info for them, right? but as u said we should not depend tatally on one marketing tool.

  • Thank you, nice post Yaro,

    Since doing your course some five years ago and starting my travel blog, my email has grown steadily and I am sure has been instrumental in enabling me give up full time job and work on my blog. However, in February 2012 I launched my app, Bansko App, and this transformed things for the last ski season (Bansko is a ski and mountain resort in Bulgaria). More email sign up, more credibility, I send direct push notifications — and they still work well. I have since then set up an app building business with my partner in Bulgaria and have set up more apps. But one thing that really surprised me is how many people are searching in the app store.

    Having gone to the trouble of producing an app, and being accepted and approved by apple to be in the store, it means that there is still not so much competition to get noticed in some sectors. One app (a beach entertainment area app) we launched for a client received over 600 downloads a day for 10 days — with no advertising.

    Mobile apps, are a great diversification in finding, and communicating with, your customers direct. But I still see an app useful for building the email list.

    Lance

    • Thanks for chiming in with your feedback Lance. It’s good to hear things like that about apps and shows how much opportunity there still is in mobile – it’s like the early days of the web.

      I’m looking forward to establishing more of a mobile presence for my work too.

      Maybe you can recommend me a good app developer :-)

      Yaro

      • Hi Yaro,

        I remember the early days of the web very well, therefore I agree with you and would add that it’s likely that in a few year’s time people will regret not looking at their app and mobile strategy sooner.

        Since you ask, I could recommend my app company and one of our four developers in it — all based in Bulgaria. It may or may not be something we can assist with. So if you can drop me an email I would be more than happy to discuss.

        I may add that Bulgaria has, for better or for worse, the lowest cot of living in the EU. This helps keep all our costs to the absolute minimum. Most of the 23 apps produced so far are completed for a fraction of the price you pay in the UK (or Australia/US). A price usually not stretching into four euro digits — but have in mind these have mainly been in a similar sector (the restaurant, club, leisure and hotel sectors).

        Lance

  • Hannah Rose

    Can you give us more on app developmnt, Yaro? (When you find out?)

    I wonder if email satisfaction has to do with age group–no playing phone tag is a wonderful thing, as far as I’m concerned. Have also been following Ed Dale a little bit-IS magcasting the next big thing? Will have to stay open to the possibility.

    Thanks,Yaro.

  • People still like receiving snail mail in the post, as long as it’s not bills. People also like to receive parcels or packages in the mail, which is one reason why mail order still works. It’s the same with email as long as it’s not spam. Thanks for your interesting post.

  • Something to really think about there Yaro, definitely need a diversification of contact / marketing applications in the case it becomes less effective. It’s crazy the amount of sheer distractions we live with now that 10 years ago wasn’t even an idea.

    Dwight Anthony
    Financially Elite Blog. com

  • chitranshu

    hi yaro!
    this is true that we should not place our all eggs in one basket but how does a newbie is going to do that? you should teach us.

  • Thank you for the insights Yaro. The title of this article merely scratches the surface of the content. But it got our “Attention Spend!” :)

    …and due to your quality writing you held our attention spend longer than most attention spans last today.

    So many great points in the comments here.

    I fell in love with email because it is asynchronous–we can read it and answer and send when we want–that’s why phone marketing is so painful to us. When the phone rings we must deal with it now or pay somebody to do it for us.

    I also had a manager (CEO I worked for) who NEVER sorted his email. Everything was either in the inbox, archive or deleted. I’ve tried to go to this “more productive” method, but my mind reels at the thought of finding things I need. It’s like having only one folder on my computer and all taxes, bank statements, docs, spreadsheets, images–everything is just in one place. Can’t do it! :)

    Back to email’s origins. I can remember how the fax machine changed business in the early 1980s. If you had a fax machine it was so powerful. Then email came and SLOWLY began to change the world. I was online and an email/BBS addict early on (1993). I was loved email but the world didn’t get it at that time.

    Paul (above) brought up the most essential role for email today. Signing up for (almost) everything is done via email. So for now email remains the communication cornerstone and bottle neck of the world.

    But apps are changing this too. Think about the Apple store and other places where you’ve already given them your payment info and permission to buy for you when you make a single click on anything. That action took email out of the loop. Email only serves as a confirmation.

    So anyone who wants to get more sales just needs to reverse engineer that process. Then determine which sites own the largest “one click buy” share for your product or service–and then get your products and services as a product into their markets.

    Thank you for the mind opener Yaro and friends.

    Warmest,

    Chris

  • This is very informative Yaro. However, what’s the best way to harvest emails on my blog. Do those popup email banners work or there are more smarter pull ways as you put it in your article.

  • Email is still working as well as it ever has and there are no signs that SMS or social media is hurting it. I love to use email everyday.

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