From the BlogContact Me Now

Is Email Marketing Dead?

According to some, email marketing is dead because of beefed up spam filters. Others say that interruption marketing – where you’re life is interrupted by some marketing pitch has reached the end of its effectiveness. Email marketing is definitely a part of interruption marketing.

But what’s the truth? Have we reached a point where we should dump our email lists and find other channels to market through? Or is email marketing still as viable as it always has been?

My own thoughts are that email marketing is still alive and somewhat well. There are lots of business owners today that are making quite a nice living from the revenue they generate from their ezine lists. They continue to get new subscribers weekly, which just reinforces that email marketing is working.

I do think, however, that email marketing is dying – however slowly. And I’m willing to concede that email marketing may just be evolving rather than dying. But of course evolution means a slow death of one so that something new can take its place. And that’s where I feel email marketing is right now.

I mean, let’s face it, we just don’t have the time to read all the stuff that comes to our inbox. So what does come in front of our eyes better either be expected, interesting or useful to my specific needs – whether personal or in business. If I subscribe to an ezine, I’ll likely give it a few issues and if the content isn’t either highly valuable or doesn’t help me solve a specific problem I’m facing, I’ll unsubscribe.

What are your thoughts? Is email marketing dying? Is it evolving? Is it static?

And how effective is your ezine list, if you have one?

(note: image from sean dreilinger on Flickr)

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Comments

  1. Flower Delivery says:

    Email marketing isn’t dead – it’s evolving.

    The winners in this transition are those who focus on providing VALUE in each message.

    If prospects/customers are conditioned to expect every message from you will benefit them, open rates go up dramatically.

    However, the days of sending long email newsletters are dead.

    Short, sweet emails that invite people to read your latest blog post or download a free report are excellent strategies.

    Not everyone knows what RSS feeds or feed readers are, so it’s important to accommodate them, too!

  2. Although I think you make some important and valid points, it’s really tough to argue that email marketing is dying or even completely dead. I do like your notion that it is evolving and changing to keep up with the demands of the marketplace.

    Yes, I get TONS of immediately deleted email in my inbox EVERY day. But occasionally I do get messages that strike me and motivate me to take action. (It just happened today, funny enough.)

    Fact: People complain about junk snail mail every day. They even claim to “hate it.”

    Fact: Junk snail mail works and will probably never stop working.

    I think the same principle applies to “junk email.”

    Great post!

  3. Tucson Arizona Realty says:

    yeah…I think email marketing is dead. In my inbox I get tons and tons of spam messages…even hundreds a day. I never read them, open them, and have them go straight into a delete box. I think if your product is good enough, you will be able to find legitimate ways to market.

  4. I think the *rules* for email marketing (such that they were) are dead.

    So I guess you could say that I fall in with the “email marketing is evolving” crowd.

    I think people will use it in whatever ways work for themselves and their (potential) audience.

    For me, the newsletter is still proving valuable enough to readers to remain a valuable investment of my time. I’ve had very few opt-outs and Dawud can attest to my writing extremely wordy newsletters! But I’ve also been pretty careful to stay on target and to add readers slowly–I’m not about quantity, esp. if the quantity ain’t gonna stick around and get something out of it.

  5. I think that Mass Email to new contacts is dying out pretty fast, but I know that in our industry (web design) it is important for us to be able to remind our clients that we still exist. We have stopped doing E-mail marketing to new clients, but we have not stopped using E-mail as a marketing tool.

    Any time that it looks like business is starting to get a bit slow, we drop a few emails to clients who are potential repeats. Also any time we offer a new feature or upgrade, we shoot out an email.

    As mentioned above, the newsletter is a nice way to keep you in the minds of your clients. That way when they think “hm. I could use a design upgrade”, your brand is familiar to them.

  6. I get so much email and I try to get myself off lists, but 1/2 the time it doesn’t work, so I’ve been forced to switch emails a couple of times. I want to sign up and unsubscribe when I want.. It does no one any good to keep me on a list if I’m cranky about it.
    On my side, I use my email list to keep in touch with subscribers, but I”m not monetizing my list yet… Except for workshops and classes locally. As the list grows, and I create value, then I’ll be adding some products and/or affiliate marketing. Taking it slowly so I don’t turn off my subscribers!
    Is that a good strategy?

  7. Mindful,
    But isn’t communicating by email getting less and less effective?

    Flower,
    Doesn’t it depend on your audience? For instance, what do you do with the masses of young people who are barely, if at all, using email?

    communicatrix,
    You do write wordy newsletters. And Iove ‘em because I love the way you express yourself in them. Do you wonder, however, how email will evolve?

    Web,
    I like your strategy – better even that it works for your business model. What was the biggest reason for ceasing your email campaign for lead generation?

    Michelle,
    A good strategy is the one that meets your audience’s needs in the way they want and expect. Sounds like you’re doing that.

    What’s interesting is how much trouble you’ve had being on the receiving end yet how much you lean on emails to communicate with your clients and prospects. Thoughts?

  8. You know this is a hot topic. Especially for me. Here’s what I think: email is long past being a novelty, and so the idea of people signing up for an ezine just because it’s free and available, and wow, how cool! Is over.

    RSS is still, despite being around for several years, in the “wow, how cool” phase- especially for millions of users that have no idea what a feed reader is yet.

    I think what’s always true is that boring, irrelevant content is dead. And useful, connected, relevant content is alive.

    And, what’s definitely true is that the delivery options are evolving, evolving…

  9. No, email marketing is not dead. I don’t even think it is dying. I think that it is evolving. The biggest problem facing email marketers in the future is actually email deliverability. I think that deliverablilty problems will cause email marketing to evolve.

  10. Interesting post. Email marketing could be the last of the interuptin marketing tools we know and still use.

    Is it dead? I don’t think so. A succesful email marketing campaign will invite, inform and provide value. It wont interupt.

    Is it dying? Hmm not sure on that one. I would agree with George that it is evolving. What it is evolving to I’m not sure.

    I dont believe email marketing can exist on its own anymore. Email used to be the tool to use – but now it has some competition.

    Succesful email marketing is an extension of good social media or WOM efforts.

  11. Also, for what it’s worth, the blogs that I follow the most frequently are the ones that i have subscribed to receive their feed updates through email.

  12. Mark,
    Aren’t you curious to see how e-communications develop? I know I am.

    And what I wonder…is email so embedded in our lives now that it’s like the telephone – we’ll just find ways to make it more convenient and more mobile? We just need a ‘do not email’ list like the ‘do not call’ list.

    Thoughts?

    George,
    How do you see email marketing evolving?

    Tucson,
    From what you’re saying, it sounds like SEO will be even more important so that we can be found for what we offer. Agree?

    davidtum,
    Love your points…

    Outside of email, if you use it, what’s been the most effective method for marketing your business?

    George,
    Glad you mentioned that.

    Don’t you think there’s a different agreement between the sender and the receiver if you’re reading blogs by email than if you’re requesting a newsletter?

  13. Shari Voigt says:

    Email marketing is not necessarily interruption marketing. That is, if your reader has signed up on your site to receive information that they perceive as valuable, and if you deliver what they what they expect to receive.

    If your email list comes from a source other than your own subscribers or if you deliver something other than what they’re expecting, then yes, it’s just another form of interruption marketing – and I agree with you that it’s not effective. I receive very few email newsletters that meet the first criteria, but those that do, get read every single time. The others end up in my junk email folder until I delete or unsubscribe.

    Although I don’t have an email list other than the email option provided by Feedburner, a couple of my customers have built up sizable email lists within their markets. They’re finding email marketing to be highly effective because they deliver exactly what their readers expect. When your readers take the time to comment and thank you for information you’re providing, AND your sales improve after every newsletter goes out, you know you’re doing something right.

  14. Phil Butler says:

    Well – I can only answer for myself and of course everyone I know. If an email comes into my box that has even a “hint” that it is marketing – it is gone.

    We need to come up with plans that are way more engaging than email. Just my thoughts.

    Always,
    Phil

  15. Shari Voigt says:

    You don’t have control over when you receive a requested email, but you do have control over when you read it. If you’re receiving valuable content that you’ve requested and can read it whenever it’s convenient for you, how is that an interruption?

    I treat RSS feeds in a similar way to email. I have a “Must Read” list that gets checked at least once a day. The rest are filtered and caught up on periodically. Whether email or RSS, the principle’s the same: If you’re meeting my expectation of quality content, you’ll stay on my “Must Read” list.

  16. Mari Adkins says:

    I’m just thankful there’s an “opt out” option on the mailers I do get. (note: am savvy enough to recognize and note “true spam” – didn’t want to go sticking my neck under the guillotine there! lol)

  17. Wendy Piersall says:

    Funny, didn’t you write a post last year saying you thought email marketing was dead? :)

    Regardless, I don’t think it’s dead, everyone always has different preferences for receiving business information that they want to read. Some want it via RSS. Others want it via email. Still others want it via articles they find on their own. And some want it by *gasp* a phone call.

    The key is adding value. As long as you do that, the method isn’t nearly as important than the message.

  18. I agree with much of what has been said about the evolution of email. I think as social media communication tools grow we will see a change in the dynamics of email marketing. I believe entrepreneurs will continue to lead the direction.

  19. I think it depends on how the marketing is done. Maybe the days of generic spam emails are long gone but if you’ve built up a list that’s more of a community then it can still work. Look, companies still use the phone to solicit. Many would have thought that ended long ago. I still get email jokes that look like they have been around since ’98. There’s still legs left in email marketing.

  20. I’ts not about e-mail, it’s about permission.

    E-mail that you’ve double opted in to receive still works, because you’ve not only given someone permission to send it, you’ve asked them to.

    So, I’d say interruption w/o permission is on the down slope, but permission-driven messaging and marketing, regardless of the medium is still very much alive and well

  21. I started an email newsletter about six years ago – that was back before the “opt-in” capability. When I started getting 500 “return to sender” emails back, I lost my interest in using the mailing list. I’ve still sent mail periodically, but I wonder about how useful it is. I can barely get legitimate email into my inbox, let alone marketing stuff.

  22. Charlene,
    How do you see entrepreneurs leading the direction?

    FFB,
    But you’d never get 500 phone calls in a day. With my spam filter off, I get 1000+ messages in my inbox. Luckily I’ve got a pretty dialed-in spam filtering system so very little hits my inbox.

    Don’t you think it’s going to be essential that we can more quickly and easily sort email as it comes in?

    Shari,
    I still see email as an interruption. Why? Because I don’t have great control over it.

    With a feed, I can choose completely how and when I view a site’s content. But with email, as soon as I hit receive, something I don’t want to be bothered with at this point can be forced in front of me…that’s an interruption.

    Now, so we don’t get into filtering, I have a highly developed filtering system for my email. So when I say ‘I’ above, I’m speaking of anyone who receives email – but not, necessarily my own situation.

    How do you weight feeds and email differently in your work day?

    Jonathan,
    Fully agree with you on interruption w/o permission.

    Yet, as a subscriber, do you have control over how and when you receive and view someone’s email content? If not, I’d say that’s still an interruption. Sure we’re splitting hairs here. But I’d love to hear more on your perspective.

    Kelly,
    Interesting experience. What, then, is your most effective way to market your business?

  23. Hi Dawud

    I’ll speak from the ‘consumer’s’ rather than the ‘marketer’s’ perspective and say that when I see the subject of the email “Pearl, You Have a Check Waiting Just For You” or when the email is so lengthy that I have to scroll down to get the point of it, I immediately unsubscribe.

    And I subscribe to quite a lot of newsletters because I want to be the first to know if my favorite sites are going to announce a useful project, product or service, or when in addition to the valuable content they provide on their website, they might have something new to teach me. So, short, value packed, to the point newsletters will continue to work.

    thanks for sharing and keeping me in the loop Dawud.

  24. Dawud, was it you I had the conversation with at SOBCon08 about blogging being dead and “going the way of e-mail”? I don’t think e-mail marketing is going anywhere, but I do think that, to make the most of it, we need to step up our respective games. E-mail isn’t new anymore — people have expectations and habits and a LOT of crap to sift through. Regardless of the medium, you have to cut through the noise and give people what they want, how they want it, in a message that’s meaningful to them. The problem many e-mail marketers are facing today is that they’re still acting like it’s 1997. People are far more savvy and far less patient than they used to be. Respect that and respond to it, and you’ll be golden.

    Kristen

  25. Dawud, The trouble I have on the receiving end is when a company makes it difficult for me to unsubscribe. So if I sign up for a list, and suddenly I’m on 6 of their lists I can’t find a way to get out of them, or unsubscribe easily. Some companies seem to think that if they make it hard to unsubscribe that I’ll read their information. Not true! I want to be able to get what I’m interested in on my terms and my timeline…. So, people would use aweber, or feedburner or constant contact or a system that is straight forward, I’m more likely to subscribe these days as I know I’ve got the power……
    I also notice when I get a little ‘twinge’ when people unsubscribe from me….:) LOL

  26. Phil,
    I agree fully. One of the keys to marketing is putting the right information in front of the right people at the right time. There’s a lot of right there. And the shotgun approach that currently dominates email marketing just doesn’t seem to fit, don’t you think?

    Pearl,
    I’ve been playing with the idea of making all my marketing materials as short as possible. I tend to be wordy, but I’ve been wondering if short doesn’t get more attention because it takes less time.

    What do you think?

    Kristen,
    They do still act like it’s 1997. Great point. Which is why I’m wondering if shorter isn’t better. Do people really read all the stuff we write to ‘convince them’ that we have the right solution? Or would they rather us cut to the chase?

    And no, that wasn’t me at SOBCon…

    Michelle,
    If companies don’t even know you and treat you like that, why would they think we’d assume that they’d be any different when we’re a customer?

  27. Dawud- Sure I’m curious how it will evolve. :) What won’t change, barring a complete meltdown of the global economy and infrastructure, is that little 1s and 0s will find their way from ‘out there’ into my computer, and I will be sending 1s and 0s ‘out there’ as well.

    However they arrive, their reception will depend upon how relevant they are. Email has been around long enough that it’s very sophisticated in terms of how it can be handled, segmented, filtered, etc, etc.

    RSS doesn’t have anywhere near the same sophistication. yet.

    If/when RSS, or some other technology, achieves the same level of sophistication in delivery and reception that email has, then I predict, email may well be replaced.

    The point isn’t the medium, it’s the functionality. Until I can filter rss posts individually, both ingoing and outgoing, then I predict that email will be alive and healthy for some time to come.

  28. > How do you see email marketing evolving?

    Well, the issue of deliverability will have to be addressed. I am sure that someone will come up with a brilliant solution that will transform email in general.

    Email marketing will become more and more about building a relationship with the reader AND educating readers. Educational marketing will be the primary force that builds these relationships. Those companies who don’t educate their readers will lose business to those who do.

    >Don’t you think there’s a different agreement between the sender and the receiver if you’re reading blogs by email than if you’re requesting a newsletter?

    No, but you have to understand that I see EVERYTHING as marketing. I see blog posts as essentially a method that people use (whether intentional or not) to build a relationship with their readers. This relationship brings people back to their blog, gets them to buy products and/or services, etc. No different than a newsletter, just seems less upfront and in your face.

  29. For me emails from sources that I subscribe are not an interruption, but rather a helpful tool to keep me abreast of information that I otherwise don’t make or have the time to search out to read.

    In my industry, knowledge is power. Passing along sound knowledge gives one credibility. Credibility provides one with new customers and sustains existing ones. To help me achieve and maintain this credibility I subscribe to information resources that provide solid content. In most cases the emails I subscribe are content rich so I take the time to read them. If an author begins to send needless dribble and fluff, I unsubscribe.

    Emails that are unsolicited are more of an interruption to my day and waste of time but we deal with the chaff as best we can.

    One has to develop a methodology to how they read their emails to get the most use of of the time expended.

    My first step is to remove the chaff, the vague topics from unknown authors…DELETED…GONE!

    Then I purge out the subscriptions that I have already read directly from their source. DELETED…GONE!

    Emails from those I converse with regularly come next…read through them, if there is a need for follow up or response I set them aside for the moment. The rest I read and either file away or DELETE>

    Any emails that catch my eye that might be of possible importance, I open with the cursor ready to mark as JUNK. Again if it is something for a potential customer or someone withing the industry/hobby I will read and process accordingly. If not its gone!

    After the chaff is sorted and disposed I concentrate on my correspondence that needs action or reply.

    My routine lets me deal with my emails in quick fashion without much effort or time being wasted.

    Is email marketing dead? No. It just needs to be done better and written by authors who know how to write. Leave the chatter out, put solid content in.

  30. Susan Payton, The Marketing Eggspert says:

    You knew I would chime in! I believe email marketing is doing well…if done correctly. You have to target your list, not spam. You have to provide information that is easy to digest and useful, not push a sale. You have to send emails frequently enough to serve as gentle reminders that you’re out there, but not so much you annoy.

    Great article, Dawud!

  31. Mark,
    I know we’ve had many conversations about this privately, but I’m not talking about RSS here at all. Simply, what are people’s experiences with email.

    And while I agree that it isn’t the medium, but the user experience, I’m also asking what type of experiences users are having with email marketing. So far, not so good. Any good examples on your end?

    George,
    Deliverability is why I’m excited to see where this develops.

    On marketing…I agree with you about seeing everything from a marketing lens. What I wonder, though, is you really don’t feel there’s a difference between me electing to view your blog at my leisure and my life being interrupted by an email that, while I might have asked for it, shows up unannounced at a time I have no control over? Love to hear more…

    Shari,
    I see it as an interruption because I don’t have control over when the message interrupts my life. Sure, I can choose not to read it – I can even filter it into folder so it’s out of my way. But I can’t decide when I’d like it to be delivered. Perhaps that’ll be an email feature of the future. Would make good marketing sense, too, don’t you think?

    Gerald,
    You make some great points. Sounds like we sort email in similar ways. So you’re saying that you don’t mind not having control over when messages are delivered?

    Mari,
    You mean you haven’t had the son of the King of Zimbabwe deposit 90 million dollars in your bank account?

  32. I really cant say whether email marketing is dead or dying, because i personally never read any mail of which i do not like the subject line. So with someone like me, email marketing is successful insofar as it is able to hook me with the subject line.

  33. I don’t think it’s totally dead but close. It’s definitely not the best way to market anymore. You are always one click away from losing them, sometimes even by accident. There are so many great tools available now that allow you to communicate so much better with your list.

  34. From what I can see email marketing is far from dead, at least some types. Many companies I work with find newsletter emails highly effective. Like several commenters have said, it’s all about permission. I agree with Mark — one thing keeping email in the game is the underwhelming use of RSS. People outside the blogosphere (and that’s a lot of people) just don’t want to deal with it. For the life of me I can’t figure out why. On the other hand, once everybody is using feed readers, email may still be a good marketing option because of its novelty value!

  35. spostareduro says:

    just this morning i received an inspirational newsletter that i had subscribed to a few months back. it didn’t ‘market’ me as most do and i was grateful to read the post that it referenced. it set my day off on the right foot. i am even considering purchasing the book, and i am a doubty person. so it is proving itself to be a worthy marketing endeavor.

    i am sad to say that, for the most part, this is not typical of most email marketing campaigns anymore. they have lost their zest. if you’ve heard one you’ve heard them all it seems. so i tend to agree that the old email marketing campaigns, as well as other marketing campaigns in more open arenas have seen better days. social media is changing availability and accessibility to mass quantities of information. we no longer are in need of email marketers hitting up our inbox with sales pitches and one-time only pizazz routines.

    hello to 24/7 social media storm, goodbye to the old and tired. grow with it, or go down with it.

  36. I think it depends largely upon what you call e-mail marketing.

    If you are talking about spam and sending out e-mails unsolicited and unwanted – yeah, that’s probably dead.

    However, e-mail is still a useful tool to reach customers. Many forms of e-mail marketing are alive and acceptable: opt-in newsletters, e-mail updates, e-mail blog subscriptions, and so on.

  37. the email share of total online ad spending as measured and reported every year by the interactive advertising bureau (http://www.iab.net/) and pricewaterhousecoopers shows email marketing is in decline.

    per the IAB annual reports, in 2000, email marketing accounted for 4% of all online ad spending ($88 million of $2.2 billion that year). as of 2007, share of spending on email marketing had dropped to 2% ($424 million of $21.2 billion in 2007).

    if you spin email marketing by annual total spending in that vertical (and i’m sure the ESPs and other vendors prefer to view it this way), things sound pretty good. but that growth curve is negative compared to the overall growth of spending in all online advertising media.

    other measured reports (as opposed to pundit forecasts) find several emerging online advertising media exceed email in terms of spending as of 2006 or 2007, including online video, social network/social media advertising, and mobile marketing.

    –sean :-)

    p.s. thanks for picking that photo of my wife to illustrate your virtual funeral for email marketing!

  38. Nicole,
    That’s one thing blogging and email have in common, then, good headlines.

    Wendy,
    You mean this post. SImilar topic, different question, though.

    Valuable content is really the key. Yet I keep wondering if there’s something more effective for the consumer to use than email (notice I said consumer). RSS certainly isn’t ready to take over. But don’t you see the trend being less and less reliance on email to communicate to our audience?

    Alisha,
    What do you feel, then, is the best current method of online marketing?

    Brad,
    I’m with you. And for the record, I’m about to begin using my newsletter list again.

    So how do you feel the various social media channels are affecting our reliance on email? Or are they?

    Susan,
    I definitely expected you to comment…and thanks for not letting me down.

    So you’re not seeing a drop off in how your audience is using email to interact with your business or your client’s businesses?

    Laura,
    Looks like you’re with the current consensus. Yet as I asked Brad, how do you see social media currently affecting email marketing?

    Sean,
    You’re welcome. Great shot of your wife, I thought – though I didn’t know she was your wife at the time I used the photo.

    Thanks for the stats. It goes to my question, is email marketing changing? And if so, how is social media affecting it?

    What about you…how do you use email and social media channels together?

  39. For our web and marketing firm it is very alive. As mentioned above it is a great reminder and education tool to our current clients. Our monthly e-letters are VERY brief … 2 to 3 items and less then 10 sentences total.

    For our small biz clients, it is still the most affordable, “trackable” and flexible marketing tool they have and understand. Most are still a bit confused on blogs, social and even proper PPC.

    Will it evolve or be replaced by something? For sure, but it will take quite some time to burn out on the mass that is out there.

  40. I don’t think email marketing is dead as much as spam marketing. If people optin to your list and your write the email in a good way it should reach its target.

  41. i totally agree what you say previousaly i also used to do mass mail to promote my product but from some time its not worth doing this work… so i started more SEO to make my site popular… I like your blog, I’ll be back!

  42. “I do think, however, that email marketing is dying – however slowly.”
    Today isn’t 1999. Time are gone.

    ‘hello to 24/7 social media storm, goodbye to the old and tired.” – That’s right!

  43. Hi, I think email marketing is getting lower priority. Maybe an additional feature besides the main marketing but not more.
    Website marketing is more important I think…

  44. Todd Jordan says:

    Wow, am I ever late to this conversation. :)

    Email marketing, as in the type of spam Google thankfully side tracks for me, well, I’d say it’s dying for sure. As people get smarter about it, it’s becoming less effective.

    Now to ezines. I subscribe to one because I’ve found few that keep my interest. Like you, if I have a specific issue to resolve, I’d love to get the emails. Often though, the emails contain way more marketing than value info.

    The one I do subscribe to usually has at least one technical article which I might be able to use, but even it is becoming overrun with adicles (ad/articles). I now mostly archive them to search later.

    Are they dead though? Perhaps more they could be thriving if they’d focus less on the direct sales and just charge for the dang emails. I’d rather that subscription have three technical articles and pay $5 or $10 a month.

    Did any of those ramblings help? FYI, I’m considering starting my own email program for programming related articles, but was thinking of going ad-less.

  45. Hi. I Really don’t like any e-mail from people that I don’t know personally.

  46. I would like to look at it from the recipient’s point of view. From that angle, it is indeed dead. He is very selective and while ezines etc may be surviving, he chooses what to read and receive. That straight away removes the direct marketeer from his list.

  47. Aaron,
    Love to hear your experiences, thanks. And as I’ve mentioned above, perhaps email is ever-engrained, like the telephone. Thoughts?

    spostareduro,
    And social media is changing the playing field. I keep bringing this point back, but social marketing gives the power back to the consumer. This is a good thing, don’t you think?

    Insomnia,
    True, yet what impact do you think social marketing is having – if any?

    bob sarva,
    Thanks, hope to see you back…

    How has email marketing to a niche-specific, opt-in driven list doing for you?

    Yard Signs Boss,
    Times they are a changin’…

    Abendkleider,
    I think you bring up an important point – web marketing, in general, is more important today than ever. People really don’t understand the true affect that Google’s search has had on niche marketing. Google’s search engine has created possibilities where there were few.

    Remont,
    I know others who feel the same way. Do you subscribe to any newsletters?

    Home Recording,
    It does, and that’s one of my main points. Since it’s been brought up, RSS is way underutilized. Yet once people understand that they can have great control over how and when they’re communicated too, they often jump on it like crazy.

    So don’t you think the issues isn’t RSS’ functionality, but rather its level of usage?

  48. This is certainly a provocative topic. Our agency provides an array of digital marketing services and email marketing by far delivers the highest ROI.

    If email marketing is dead, our agency and clients are experiencing a rebirth.

  49. Bryan Kress says:

    Hey Dawud,
    I think email marketing is dying as many people are starting to get cluttered by the massive amounts of emails in their inbox. There has been a new movement back to old snail mail to be more effective. Also, sms messages are more in real time and in the palm of the consumer. I did have one questions though what did you mean by your ezine list? I have about 37 ezine articles and didn’t know what you meant. I feel like I have overlooked something. Or it could be that I have no subscribers.
    One other quick point is that using message services on social networks such as facebook are now grabbing more precedents than typical email.
    I hope your doing well Dawud!

  50. rebate processor says:

    Although my email filters automatically catch most spam sent my way, there are always a few here and there that slip through.

    The fact is, if spamming emails did not work, then spammers would stop sending them. I guess they are making enough sales to keep them going.

  51. Wow, what a stretch to think email is dead!

  52. Lee,
    Interesting. Are we talking targeted bulk lists or building lists through driving traffic to client’s sites?

    Todd,
    Pay model, huh? But would you pay a subscription price to be on a list, say, for a marketing coach?

    Bryan,
    Ezine list being from the perspective of the business owner – building a list to market too.

    I wonder, too, how much of an impact social media is having on email. That’s why I asked the question.

    rebate processor,
    That’s what I keep wondering…like cold calling…who does spam work on?

  53. Certainly judging from the amount of salesman type email that lands in my email box, it’s not dead. But if you consider how much of it that I really read, maybe it is dead. Email clients need to get better at filter our email for us. And, I don’t just mean sending questionable stuff to our spam folder. Email clients need to be smarter about what I’m interested in lately and move those things to the top of my list. Kind of like how Amazon shows me all the latest products I’ve looked and other related items.

  54. Dawud- Ahhh, somehow I wasn’t quite getting the gist of your question.

    Email marketing is alive and well at Heart of Business. When I send out a newsletter article, i still get plenty of comments back from folks who tell me they are overjoyed to receive the article, and that they save them to re-read.

    I’ve also had some great conversations with folks who responded to the email newsletter, who were bringing up subjects or vulnerabilities they would’ve never shared in a public arena like a blog- and I believe the intimacy of the email newsletter- it feels a lot more like a one-on-one conversation to me- allows for that.

    Then, there’s our business. We haven’t seen any downturn in sales through our email newsletter. If anything, it’s going up. We still have a fairly high conversion rate, and many of our clients are repeat customers.

    Also, email is the only format where I can be really sophisticated with the delivery. So, for instance, when someone purchase something from us, they never see an ad for that item again. If I’m running a promo on that item, they don’t hear about the promo- they often just receive an unexpected gift from me.

    I was recently able to completely sell out a course in record time- before the early-bird deadline came up, and yet the vast majority of people on my email list never heard about it. Because of segmentation and sophistication with email, I can be really careful about who I promote to, what I promote, and so hopefully don’t over-promote.

    And yet still have really healthy monthly sales.

    I should probably do my own post on this, since the comment is getting rather lengthy. :) Maybe I will this coming week. Time to get outside in the sun. :)

  55. So, what do you have control over? Can you control when the phone rings with a call from a client or a friend with some important information or questions. Can you control when someone arrives and knocks on your door? When something important arrives in your mailbox (snail mail) ? Control is something we strive for but only think we can master. What we can control is how we interact with these influences or interferences on and in our lives.

    So who does have control of what is being directed at or to them? No one really, we get bombarded with information while we shop…ever visit a Wal-Mart lately…multimedia bombardment! Thankfully I am hard of hearing so I can tune it out for the most part!

    As far as my inbox, some mornings I just never open it until I am ready. I’m also willing to bet, that not getting any emails, solicited or not, is more upsetting to you than if your box was full. No news is bad news?

  56. Mari Adkins says:

    RSS is an awesome tool but far too many people don’t know what it is or how to use it. The problem is lack of education.

  57. RSS feeds are the new email marketing. The reader feels more “proactive” receiving them and more in control since they can choose what to read instead of it being pushed into their inbox.

  58. >is you really don’t feel there’s a difference between me electing to view your blog at my leisure and my life being interrupted by an email that, while I might have asked for it, shows up unannounced at a time I have no control over? Love to hear more…

    I personally don’t think it affects the majority of people in a negative way. Right or wrong, we are pretty much trained to expect many interruptions every day. In fact, people are buying products and using products that interrupt our lives more and more. For example, cell phones. It’s bad enough that most of us will drop whatever we are doing at home to pick up the phone, but now most of us will drop whatever we are doing while ANYWHERE to answer our cell phones. I am not a big fan of this “so called” progress … but it is the norm. I just don’ think there is a significant difference. If I go read a blog every day, it is interrupting my day, because I could be doing something else. I chose to receive the email and I can choose when to read it just as easily as I can choose when to read a blog. Both interrupt my day in the same manner … they take time away from my life. This does mean that as time goes on the better information will win my time. Whether it is the blog or the newsletter, the information has to be good to deserve my time. Hope that makes sense… I am kind of in a rush to catch up on my email ;)

  59. Top Rated,
    I agree with your point on email clients becoming smarter. We’ve gotta find a way to better manage email communications in general, in my opinion.

    Mark,
    Certainly do a post…and I’ll link to it.

    Don’t you think you’re situation is rather unique? If you look at the number of independent businesses out there who are trying to use a list to market their business, what percentage are getting any traction?

    What I wonder is how replicable the ezine model is today – especially for people without much technical skill.

    Oh yeah, we’re fine with long conversations here so feel free to add anything any time.

    Gerald,
    You’re definitely preaching to choir when it comes to ‘control.’ And that gets into a rather large, and possibly deep, conversation that I’d love to have at some point.

    As you say, we are interrupted regularly. Yet I don’t think that means we shouldn’t strive for ways to change that, do you?

    Sure, I enjoy email. I use it a ton. And I, personally, have a rather extensive system for managing how I’m interrupted by it. So I’m not poop-pooping email. I’m asking whether email marketing is still effective or whether it’s beginning to die off or evolving.

    Mari Adkins,
    So what can we do about that?

    Embroidery,
    Sure, but do you know anyone who’s driving massive business just using RSS?

    George,
    Well, we should make sure one thing’s clear…interruption from me and my blog are okay. :)

    You’re right, of course. I’m just watching the trends coming out of the younger generation – the gen y’ers. They’re using technology differently than we ‘older’ folks are. They’re using email less and social media a lot more. I’m just wondering how many people are considering this?

  60. Dawud- Yes, email may be very similar to the phone. Ubiquitous, understood and easy to use. As we roll out new forms and tools of communication, email will likely remain the “old reliable”.

    From all the comments here the biggest thing I can take away from this is our own internal filters are tightening for email marketing. We are more particular about the goal, the message/content and the time it takes to read this form of marketing.

    I don’t see email marketing anywhere near dying for the way I use it (only clients), but I think we’ll see marketers tailor elements to overcome these human filters in one way or another. I find it fun to see what those enhancements will be.

  61. Email marketing is never going to die- It’s in a stage of evolution. Different people and business have re-evovled the strategies to improve email markerting campaigns.The issue of spam is a misconception of how we use our email services for example filters and putting a block on unspammy mails.

    With the correct tracking systems in place, email marketing will be more effecient and measurable, limiting its extinction…

  62. If you deliver value via email, you get ROI. If you spam, you get nothing. It is not what you use, but how you use it.

  63. Aaron,
    I think that’s a very good observation. Many of us are tightening our filters. I know I am. Whether it’s email, social networks, or the phone – I’m interested in communicating effectively and efficiently with the people I want and need too. The rest is…well…the rest.

    How are you using social media these days?

    Shirts,
    True. But what about as ISP or mail server filters get tighter? Won’t this possibly affect delivery? And if so, what effect could this have on commerce?

    Yura,
    But that can’t be true because spam wouldn’t happen if people weren’t making money on it. Same with telemarketing. Someone’s responding.

  64. Josh Spoehr says:

    Email marketing has never worked with me. Everyday I look at my email… Delete……then off to other things. It must work for some otherwise I would stop getting emails to grow my you know what another 8 feet, and really stop with the youwon the ubequestanie lottery because your grandmothers aunt passed away and you were the heir to the golden ticket.

    If you ask me those emails have done their best to kill email marketing, if I don’t know the sender I will never open it.

  65. >They’re using email less and social media a lot more. I’m just wondering how many people are considering this?

    That is very important to consider, especially if they are your target market.

  66. Bert Mahoney says:

    This post has set off a storm of comments so I will join in the fray.

    I would say that email marketing is not dead.
    Email marketing is evolving.

    I believe that if what you are providing through the email has value to someone then it is worthwhile.

    I see email ‘marketing’ as merely a ‘foot-in-the-door’ to invite people to go take action elsewhere on the web through another web-based communication mechanism (forms, interactive info, video, etc.)

    Think of email marketing as more of a ‘welcome mat’ to what is being offered.

    People will always sign up for mailing lists with companies and organizations they see as providing information, products, or services they see value in. So I believe it will never die, just evolve.

    Remember that email used to just be plain-text. Now we see html emails, a push for email standards for developers, and soon I imagine Flash and video content will be supported in email and will open an entirely new experience (evolution) of what is created and what is possible.

  67. I want to push back on this concept of email marketing as ‘interruption marketing.’

    The way my email client, Eudora, works, I choose when I’m going to check my email.

    I don’t choose when the phone rings. i don’t choose when someone knocks on the door. When I drive, billboards are everywhere, and unless I want to wear a blindfold, I can’t avoid seeing them.

    Even with Twitter, I choose to have twhirl on my desktop, but once I’ve put it there, I don’t choose when my eyes get pulled to look at it because it’s moved- a new tweet has arrived.

    I can ignore twitter. I can let the phone go to voicemail. I can ignore the knocking at the door, draw the shades, and hide behind the couch. I can studiously ignore billboards. But, the input is still flowing into my environment.

    With email, none of it happens until I say so.

    With this in mind, would you really say that email is interruption marketing?

  68. Josh,
    I think this is a growing trend. I know I’m tired of getting messages at a time when I don’t want them.

    George,
    I think it is. What social media is doing is changing the playing field so that now business owners, ad folks and marketers have less control of the market. The future will sure be interesting.

    Bert,
    Sounds interesting. And I agree, at least for now, that people will continue to signup for lists for companies they trust. I just wonder how this is changing.

    Mark,
    Actually, I do. You can read about it in my post Why Email Marketing IS Interruption Marketing.

    But one thing to note, while I don’t, personally, appreciate being interrupted, I don’t think it’s wrong or unethical. And I use email marketing myself. Yet I know that things are changing – however slowly.

  69. I meant that when you spam, you get no trust, no loyalty, no repeat customers. At least when compared to really delivering value.

  70. Looking at email marketing as a customer, I wouldn’t say it’s dead or even dying. Not by any means. I get dozens of marketing email everyday, and I don’t consider these intrusions since I’ve given the marketer my permission to communicate to me. Opening an email is a different thing. I do my scanning, and open whatever seems interesting, the rest gets deleted or archived. And I do purchase from email links sometimes. Spam, of course, gets filtered 99% of the time, so I dont bother with that, except to delete a few that gets through.

    To say that email is evolving is putting it more correctly, I think. With RSS and other innovations, email marketing has to evolve, just like anything else in the web 2.0 world.

  71. I would say that it’s not dead. Yes, that could be annoying in some cases, but if you manage your campaign properly, there shouldn’t be any problems. Besides, I really think that the results depend on the imagination of the marketer. If he or she can bring something new in letters and offers – that should work well.

  72. Bill Austin says:

    Ezines are not “Email Marketing” ezines are also not “interruption marketing.”

    People who subscribe to legitimate ezines choose to subscribe to them and accept the cost in terms of advertising inserted into the content.

    Email marketing as practiced by spammers is not the same thing.

    When someone buys a list of e-mail addresses or harvests a list of email addresses and sends e-mail to them, that is spam and that should die as quickly as possible.

    Growing a legitimate list of people who are genuinely interested in your topic and who opt in to receiving information (FROM YOU) on that topic and then sending them information about that topic is not dying and will never die.

  73. Chris Myers says:

    In some cases it can be a simple reminder to past clients about you and your business…along the same lines of one of your more recent posts…be there when they need you. You’ve got to stay in their face…but with as little intrusion as possible.

  74. The answer depends entirely upon whether or not one distinguishes between unsolicited spam and email marketing newsletters that the recipients opt in to. I frequently respond to the latter by making a purchase.

    If I indicate that I am interested in being alerted to specials and sales from a specific company about a specific line of products, there is a good chance I’ll buy something if I receive an email alerting me to a good offer.

    I don’t even open spam, or even the vast majority of email from sources I am unfamiliar with.

  75. Yura,
    So true. Do you think that happens with legitimate email as well?

    Mike,
    But do you get any email that you would consider an interruption in your day/life/business?

    Dating,
    Can you give an example of something new you’ve seen that you thought was good?

    Bill,
    I don’t lump opt-in ezines with spam. I see them in two different categories – one has permission and one doesn’t.

    And since I mentioned permission, do you see permission marketing ever as interruption marketing?

    Chris,
    I don’t disagree. Yet isn’t this still a case that you have to interrupt someone’s life to stay in front of them?

    Pedro,
    But do you think the answer is with the perception of the receiver?

  76. Bill Austin says:

    Opt-in is fine as long as it truly is.

    Most of what I see being sold as e-mail marketing and as opt-in is neither.

    Dawud, If everyone was as competent at this as you and I are, the world would be a better place.

  77. I can see why people may say email marketing is dying, because it’s not experiencing the growth it was a few years ago but rumors of it’s death are greatly exaggerated. It will die when it is no longer profitable and from my experiences with clients, a lot of people are still making a log of money from it. If you can get permission from a lead to send them emails then you know they’re interested. Give them something good, don’t send them daily hard sell emails and you’ll still get results.

  78. Jay Ramirez says:

    I think the days of buying email lists and contacting people you don’t know in bulk is over. Marketers that begin sending tweets to people on Twitter are immediately blocked. But if I’m expecting something that provides value to me, I’ll take the time to read it. People aren’t reading less, they just have a higher BS standard.

  79. Crystal Reports Training Buffalo says:

    Email marketing SPAM is dead, but if you have the right list, business can still be generated on a pretty wide ranging basis.

  80. I personally don’t think opt in email marketing is at all dead. Messages have to be quick, interesting and succinct, but if it’s worth reading, then I’ll definately read it.

    I think SPAM is a bit old news, but company mailing lists are a great means of communication and can provide very cost effective marketing, especially in these credit conscious times.

  81. I would have to agree with my fellow commenters, I don’t think email marketing is dead. People still seem responsive, but you definitely have to differentiate yourself, and have good mailing lists.

  82. Hi,

    First – Excellent blog.
    The things you said about email marketing are so true. Only when one will die other will evolve, may be email marketing is in a transformation phase. But may be its success depends on reaching the right people. Like giving food to hungry not to someone who ain’t hungry. Like, I’m a programmer and I always read the mails which has some lessons on CSS and XHTML. I ignore all other blogs.
    Thanks for reading,
    Aditya

  83. Very interesting post. NO, Email marketing is not dead, we have to do in right way. But some sales is down but not dead email marketing.

    Email Marketing Tips

  84. Austin birth injury lawyer says:

    Because of spam filters, email marketing for some is slowly dying. But as you said, email marketing is just evolving. The Internet changes from time to time, people should also adapt.

  85. Email Marketing Expert says:

    Your opinion is very interesting. But I think that email marketing is still alive. Sending my email campaigns I get a good open rate. The conversion rate is pretty high too. However it took me much time to test and compare until I reached good results.

  86. We use email marketing as a tool to sign up new clients. We have found this form of marketing to be one of the most effective. Our close rate is over 73% from email marketing responses.

  87. This is a Fantastic post. I believe that internet marketing is just evolving. We will soon learn the different ways to cope up to different spam filters. I don’t think it’s really dying. It’s still the best way to make a profit.

  88. Partially agree. Email marketing is still alive and its is not dying. I believe that there are still some customers who prefer the email and they are the ones who keep this alive.

  89. Hi,

    I am not agree with it that Email Marketing is dead, it may be some fluctuation happened there but still there are great number of customers who use email for marketing. It has changed the traditional ways, some update is done on it. I also use email marketing. Spamming is the main reason that people worried about E-mail marketing. If you have unique and fresh content then don’t worry about spamming, using duplicate content give increase to spam e-mail.

  90. E-mail marketing is still prevailing but the intensity has certainly gone down. New marketing techniques are being introduced. So its quiet safe to say that E-mail marketing is dying slowly.

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  5. […] Dawud Miracle added an interesting post on Is Email Marketing Dead?Here’s a small excerptAccording to some, email marketing is dead because of beefed up spam filters. Others say that interruption marketing – where you’re life is interrupted by some marketing pitch has reached the end of its effectiveness. … […]

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