Nielson has published research and eMarketer reports social media is now tops for grabbing our "digital" attention. Social media and blogs jumped in the ranking by 43% over last year. Great news! Well, for the digital marketing world all is not great. Email for example, fell to 3rd place on the list, garnering just over 30% behind "games" and ahead of "portals."
Put another way, if you could condense time into one hour, email would only occupy 5 minutes of that one hour. Social media and blogs would grab a whopping 13 minutes and 36 seconds by comparison!
Nielson describes it:
Despite some predictions otherwise, the rise of social networking hasn’t pushed email and instant messaging into obscurity just yet. Although both saw double-digit declines in share of time, email remains as the third heaviest activity online (8.3 percent share of time) while instant messaging is fifth, accounting for four percent of Americans online time.
So what does this mean for the future of email marketing?
We're certainly still communicating and sharing online - in larger amounts actually - we just aren't using email to do so. Gmail may have the answer by using email as a small piece of the sharing puzzle, but linked to other small pieces to make up the interaction in its entirety. This assumes of course you understand and use Buzz, Wave, etc. It also assumes you're willing to share email addresses the same as you do say a facebook profile. I'm not certain that is likely to happen. Aside: I saw a tweet recently saying, "AOL email is so 90's."
However, I am certain as population ages shift, younger people, whether they call it email or not, are using facebook messages the same as their parents use (used) email. It may be called something different, but it is still the same base concept. In other words, they use facebook messages (email) as a piece of a larger puzzle to stay connected, engaged and to share.
Is the future a hybrid email model that arrives via a social networking platform like Twitter DMs, facebook messages or as part of a Google wave?
Be careful before you run out and DM your followers to death. It is much easier to unfollow a tweet spammer than it is to delete and block or unsubscribe an emailer. Ditto "unfriend" a person or "unlike" a page.
One thing I will boldly share right now: go listen to Gravedigger by the Dave Mathew's Band the next time you work up your email newsletter.
You'll think twice about content and desired outcome.