Email Prospers, Shifts In A Social Media World

Being a small business owner is often about making choices. Where is your time best spent and how can you best connect with your customers? Because of all the chatter about Facebook, Twitter, blogs and social media, it’d be easy to think that email is dying out or that it’s become ineffective for reaching out to customers. But you’d be wrong. When it comes to reaching out for commercial purposes, email remains top dog.

Yesterday eMarketer took some time to comment 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.

Interesting. So is it all good news then? Is email climbing the charts across the board? Well, not exactly. There is one area where email’s dominance seems to be slipping.

Merkel’s numbers found personal communications are shifting away from email, likely moving toward social networks and even text messaging. I know the days of my mother dropping me emails throughout the day have all but stopped now that she’s found sending me a text will deliver the information much faster. As our inboxes fill up with marketing material, we’re looking at alternatives for passing on personal messages.

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.

This past summer Prasad Thammineni gave us 7 reasons to use Groupon for your small business, and we’ve seen how the service has continued to grow and earn buzz, even forcing Google to create a Groupon-clone after unsuccessful acquisition attempts.

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.

Experiment with the shiny, new marketing tactics, but don’t let go of the tried and true ones. Even if they’re not as sparkly, they’re still effective in marketing to your core customers.


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

6 Reactions
  1. Email also has the benefit of being low cost without being time intensive. If your list is already loaded into an email service provider like iContact or Aweber you only need to write the message once and it will send to an entire list. Though this lacks true 1-1 interaction, it is pretty good at getting relevant messages to the right people in a personal way.

  2. Martin Lindeskog

    I think that email will always be around. I get my updates and notifications from Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogger, etc., via email. The hard thing is to take control of your inbox… 😉

    I do think that you will get notified on the go and directly to your smart phone via messages and SMS to a greater part in the near future. I also think that you will get specialized deals on your phone when you are at a certain specific location as a just-in-time notification.

  3. 2. Who says Groupon is losing its value i think Groupon is flying high! evreyone is terrified with it i think it will break the record of facebook of getting the most numbers of users… i check groupon and grouponbot daily and have notice the deals are starting to get better

  4. Good post, Lisa.

    While the massive amounts of email that we get tends to aggravate most of us, it’s still a very powerful marketing medium.

    I guess that I’m waiting for some maGic tool–something that will help me keep up the important stuff that continues to flood my inbox.

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