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Is Business Email Dead? Will it go the way of the Radio, Book, Cinema?

I must take a screen dump of my inbox and send it to Zuck so he can count how many Facebook emails I receive a week telling me what a loser I am for not hanging out on Facebook. I might as well send the same screen dump to the masters of Linked In for they surely do use email just to tell me about the latest gossip.

email

I was going to keep out of this discussion as it smells like the previous eulogizing of the radio, books and cinema. However when I was told by an associate that their client decided not to go with an email campaign targeting a B2B segment because his 15 year old daughter did not use email I had to get on my soap box.

When I first delved into the world of computers I was fascinated by the gurus who prophesied the end of books or anything printed on paper due to the magic of computers. Then came the 500+ page manuals on everything to do with computers most of which grew out of date in 3 months. Thats when the next version of X came out and required buying a refresh of the 500+ page book. In fact I have over 300 of these door stoppers on my shelf everything from DOS to Lotus Notes.

Of course TV was going to kill radio and lets not forget that home entertainment systems is still going to kill cinema.

How surprising that they are all still here.

After a bit of research I identified some of the initial oracles of email’s demise and it became apparent that, like other crusades attempting to kill off well established technologies, it is the people selling the next big idea that sparked the panic.

Mark Zuckerberg is one of the more major crusaders to state that email is dead while he attempts to flogged his latest product which he obviously hopes will supplant email which has been around since before he was out of nappies. I must take a screen dump of my inbox and send it to Zuck so he can count how many Facebook emails I receive a week telling me what a loser I am for not hanging out on Facebook. I might as well send the same screen dump to the masters of LinkedIn for they surely do use email just to tell me about the latest gossip.

What many of these oracles seem to forget is that everyone has email and its so ingrained within our social and business culture that you cannot function much these days without an email address. Businesses have invested vast sums of money to use email as a form of communication both internally and externally,  product/service support for most businesses have email as their main channel and software vendors have invested billions in their email and related products – Microsoft, IBM, Apple and the like.

The claims that email is dead are normally backed up by selective survey results. According to comScore, emails sent to 12- to 17-year-olds fell by nearly a quarter in 2010. That maybe true but my guess as to why these spring chickens are not using email is that they have yet to face the workforce where social networks are considered a virus for business productivity and your manager does not communicate via txt.

Email is personal and smart marketers know this – your inbox is the closest that businesses can get to you bar voice. Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn and other social networks still have the feeling of buffering you from the messenger – maybe that will change but I don’t feel as connected to a business who pings me on Facebook than I do with a business using personalized email.

Email is easy to use and everyone has it. Not all people have an iPad, smart phone, social network account so dropping your email campaign for an iPad app or Facebook app is not the smartest thing to do.

One pitch I have read is that email will be replaced by using social networks as the communication platform. That’s all nice and bleeding edge but as Twitter has proven, by severely restricting access to its API for developers, you don’t own their network and free is not a business model if you have investors.

So I will get off my inbox for now and retire safe in the knowledge that email will go the way of the radio, the printed book and TV.

Email will of course evolve over time but until the next big thing is very cheap and used as much as email then its just the next big thing.

I would love to get your thoughts on this so please comment.

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