In my last Email Insider column, I established that email is just as innovative a medium, if not more so, than newer digital applications such as text messaging and feed syndication (RSS). This time, I suggest that email will not disappear in an era of new and more immediate messaging. Instead, it will adapt as communication needs shift with different audiences. It will even help facilitate these new emerging technologies.
Reinforcing, Not Replacing, Technology
Messiahs of a new messaging technology too often fall into the same old trap: Promote the new application by disparaging the old one. They're overlooking the key idea that email undergirds all technology use.
Each communication vehicle (email, IM, Web site, text messaging, social network) gets used differently depending on which groups are involved in the communication and how many people are involved at each end of the message.
For example: Text messaging is probably the most efficient consumer-to-consumer vehicle. We might never see a similar volume for business-to-business, but it does have a use for a smaller group need such as an appointment or Webinar reminder in B-to-B or a flight delay in B-to-C. Email and instant messaging also can send a message fast, but users need to be at desktop or laptop computers. Cell phones and PDAs simply are more accessible in the consumer world.
Laid over those models are the different audience sizes:
Which medium appears most often across these categories? Email, of course.
There are also message factors including urgency, timing, content, size and frequency:
How Email Accommodates the Shift Change
No technology will go obsolete as long as an audience needs it. Instead, message technology shifts according to the audience size and needs I outlined above. Email's role is to facilitate those shifts, and that role will keep email a key player as the messaging world shifts and evolves.
Witness these ways email already is being used to move messages from one medium to the next. Here are four examples:
Not that all of these have a link to pure email marketing or publishing; however, they help put email in front of users as a viable communication vehicle for all kinds of messages, including your commercial messages.
So, email as technological roadkill? Hardly. Email is still in the driver's seat, and it's not about to yield its place.