Essentially, the definition declares email as a direct communication medium between computers. Why, then, do we only consider email as the messages we receive in an inbox? Shouldn’t all digital direct messaging channels be considered an email or a subtype of email? (And don't get me started on Webster hyphenating "e-mail." That's a topic that deserves its own post.)
Why Call Email’s Image Into Question?
Today’s marketing organization is still very much silo-ed by channels, with teams or individuals managing each one: display, paid search, SEO, website, mobile, email, social, etc. Even when teams are built around customer segments or brands, the fragmentation is usually still pervasive, despite the best efforts of companies to be nimble and innovative.
This fragmented approach has led to confusion as new means of sending digital-direct messages to consumers have emerged. For example, who would be responsible for messages to connected devices like a car’s computer and GPS screen? This is a perfect receiving place for a message from the manufacturer about service reminders or other alerts. What about other innovations happening with the Internet of Things, or even direct messages like SMS or push notifications? By Webster's definition, wouldn’t all of these examples be called email?
In one sense, they are tied to email. As ESPs have transformed into multichannel marketing platforms, they have made fully orchestrated customer journeys possible. These systems are syncing up with first-party data as an email marketer manages to create 1:1 permission-based communications. Additionally, relationships with multichannel marketing platforms are almost always owned in companies by the email marketing manager.
What Channels Should be Considered an Email or Subtype of Email?
Email marketing managers should be making the case internally to change the perception of what an email
is, so they can manage all of the following:
-- Emails in the traditional sense: batch, automated and triggered.
-- SMS notifications.
-- Push notifications when direct to a consumer and not a one-size-fits-all app message. (The mobile app manager should handle generic messages as part of an app strategy.)
-- Any new means of sending a direct message that emerges from the IOT and connected devices:
---- Fitness trackers
---- Pet GPS trackers
---- Smart homes
As email marketers, we need to think about email as something more than a message received in an inbox. Only then can we be best positioned to handle the innovations taking place in our industry. It’s time for the email channel to meld with complementary channels, and for experienced email marketers to manage it within their organizations.
By applying the direct-marketing expertise of email marketers to emerging and synergistic channels, brands can quickly capitalize on the chance to outperform the silo-ed efforts of the competition. What falls under the purview of the email marketer will inevitably change. The question is how quickly organizations will formalize this new reality.
Am I the only one who thinks email marketing should be more than email? Let me know in the comments.