Time to Euthanize email Marketing

The death of email has been a hot debate over the past few years (see links below) with many predicting the demise of email marketing.  A few years ago I passively agreed with them, but thought there was still a place for email marketing, and I thought it was useful for in some instances.  I’ve finally had it with email marketing!  I am now on the side for calling for the death of email marketing and think it is time to peacefully euthanize this outdated marketing tool that has become a complete nuisance and is effectively Spam.  Let’s pull the plug and let it die peacefully (as Ben & Jerry’s did, see link at bottom) while there is still a fond memory of when it was actually useful.  At the bottom of this post I have my list of why I hate email marketing and what I still like about it.

So if I am now calling for the death of email marketing what do I propose to replace it?  Ahhh grasshopper, that is a very good question…

We have been well into Web 2.0 immersion for some time now (at least most of us) and Web 2.0 is the age of social media, social networks, permission marketing, and inbound marketing.  Email marketing is outbound marketing no matter how you dress it up, now matter how cool you try to make the headline and this makes it Web 1.0 end of story. It is a dinosaur in Internet terms.

As Web 2.0 and social media/networks have evolved, blogs and RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication) have really taken off.  While both have been around for years, even decades, social networks provided a means to more effectively share this content.  I really think Twitter has been amazing for blogs, ditto for Facebook and especially the RSS feed features on My Yahoo, Google alerts and iGoogle – I really love the My Yahoo feed and iGoogle and use both every day!

So why are companies still using email marketing so much?

  • email marketing companies like Constant Contact do an amazing job of self promotion and make a great case for their continued existence – and they should, they are fighting for their very existence!
  • Habit – let’s face it, we all get into habits and keep doing the same thing that worked a long time ago, even when it is not working as well as it once was.
  • No one wants to tell the boss it doesn’t work because he still thinks it is cool.
  • It looks good for the marketing department to have a “list” of thousands or hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

Why I now hate email marketing:  Yep, I am the email Grinch, I hate it, hate it, hate it!

  • Overused and abused by ALL – even the best email newsletters have become Spam.  They come out too often and just clog my inbox that is already out of control.
  • Invisible Unsubscribe button – have you ever noticed how the unsubscribe button is hidden in a nearly invisible location in a tiny font.  That annoys me to no end!
  • Zuckering – lots of email newsletters and email marketing campaigns trick you into subscribing when you download that cool whitepaper or PowerPoint that you think is free (the price you pay is getting their Spam) and then you have to go through the hassle of un-subscribing.
  • Weak content – much of it just is not all that interesting or relevant.
  • Too much content – for some reason these marketing geniuses think more = better  and feel an obligation to turn their newsletter into a book.

Why I still like some email marketing:
Actually I couldn’t think of any reasons I still like email marketing, sorry, I just couldn’t, but I still see good use for email systems like Constant Contact and iContact for…

  • Event notifications – local and regional emails about upcoming concerts or event etc.  OK, I give the email crowd this one, a blog would not likely replace this although Facebook pages and events may impact it.
  • Employee Newsletters – good argument for this to be outbound since many employees may not go to a company blog or website and would miss important info.  Likewise if the company newsletter is Spammy or comes out too often they won’t read that either.
  • Corporate communications – different from outbound email marketing, I am talking about communications directly to clients or customers that is VERY specific, content rich, NOT overly frequent, and not selling them something (even in a subtle way).
  • Special communications – e.g. an important (and I mean really important) product update or notification.

Links to past blogs posts on the Death of email Marketing:

Ben & Jerry’s Scraps Monthly email Newsletter in favor of Social Media

Social Media now more Popular than email

The Death of email marketing?  It already died and we missed it! from 2007

By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications

Of course this is just my opinion and I am sure there are many that still think email marketing is very cool and working well.  I just hope I can find the unsubscribe button when it hits my inbox.

As always I wish you the best and brightest future

Bill Grunau, aka @own_you_future

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