The return of email

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Who 'scapes the lurking serpent's mortal sting?
Not he that sets his foot upon her back.
The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood*

Four short months ago, cries of "email is dead!" rang round the halls of the Internet, with social networks widely labeled the cause of death. It prompted mild mannered email marketers to come out and vigorously defend the medium.

A month ago, suggestions emerged that far from killing email, "social networks are set to breathe new life into the medium."

In the last few days, the "email is dead" theme has returned. Except this time, it's not just email marketers refuting that prediction.

Instead, mainstream media and technology commentators are coming out in support of email, and suggesting the big webmail providers could beat the social networks at their own game.

It seems email marketers were right. (So far.)

Saul Hansell set the ball rolling, revealing Google and Yahoo's "social email" plans in this New York Times piece. That prompted much (largely positive) discussion from other heavyweights, such as Mashable and Business Week.

A day later, the "but email is dead" backlash began, prompted in part by a contribution in Slate suggesting communication habits among youths might (not would) force oldies to change their email ways.

This time, though, there was more public argument about this possibility, with the likes of Publisher 2.0 claiming email's ubiquity is a USP that guarantees survival.

Of course, the long-term survival of email is all very well. That does not mean email infrastructure, services and habits stay the same.

Email is not dead, but it is changing. So marketers cannot expect to keep using it the same way and see the same results.

The question is not "is there a future for email?" but "how will email look in the future?" and "how does that change my approach to email marketing?"

The challenge to email evangelists I issued a while back remains valid today.

(For those interested, the blog world is full of contributions on these two subjects: email and social networks and the future of email. Use Technorati to follow the debate.)

*Shakespeare's Henry VI. Part III

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Permalink | November 19, 2007 | 1 comment(s)
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Just browsing the internet. You have a very, very interesting blog. I'm sure I will visit again.
By Blogger Freddie Sirmans, on 27 November, 2007  

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