That is a pretty startling question. And in that you no doubt have checked your email dozens of times today, sent numerous emails out and gotten that many or more in, to say that as a mode of communication that email is obsolete would be a mistake. Email is no more obsolete than letter writing or talking on the telephone is. But it is safe to say that its possible that email is no longer cutting edge and its era as a primary tool for internet marketing may be coming to an end.
When email first became a popular mode of communication, it virtually changed the way communication worked in a way that can only be compared to the invention of the telephone. Email combined the quickness of a telephone conversation with the ability to document what was said of a letter writing exchange. At the time to be able to send an email that reached the recipient’s email box in moments time even if they were on the other side of the world was mind blowing.
The internet marketing potential was tremendous. As internet marketing became a genuine mode of doing businesses, it grew up as the use of email grew up. However there was trouble in paradise and we probably don’t have to tell you what the problems were. It can be summed up in one word – spam. Spam is nothing more than unwanted email communications usually from an internet marketer. The corresponding experience outside of the internet is the solicitor phone call in the middle of dinner or junk mail and both are just as irritating and unwelcome as spam marketing emails.
So in the last decade internet marketing using email as the primary mode of communication with your customers has grown in two parallel lines. The legitimate side of email marketing and customer support has grown and become more sophisticated and useful. Many businesses were able to build impressive online business empires supported by email marketing and ongoing email communications with a growing customer base. For thousands of online marketers, the idea of conducting business without email communications with customers seems impossible.
But it was the other parallel line that grew like a cancer to the point that it snarled email communications and has interfered with email deliverability for the many legitimate email based internet merchants working in cyberspace. The spam merchants working with sophisticated mass mailing services and software have flooded email boxes of every citizen of cyberspace to such an extent that without spam control software both at the server level and at the desk top level, it is virtually impossible to use email for routine purposes any more.
Spam control software has grown exponentially as well and become powerful and sophisticated. It has also spawned a cottage industry which has imposed a whole new cost of operations on every email user in the world who wants to avoid the spam avalanche they will face if they go unprotected. This has created resentment and distrust in the email system of communications in general and certainly toward online merchants who wish to use the internet for customer service and marketing. To say that a few bad apples spoiled it for everyone puts it mildly.
Because of this ongoing war between spam operators and spam control software services, email deliverability has become a tedious chore to maintain and without constant oversight, an internet merchant can lose contact with its customers in short order. For that email has become obsolete as a valid and easy to use tool for marketing and customer communications.
Meanwhile new forms of communications such as instant messaging, VOIP and WEB 2.0 interoperability have started the next wave of evolution in internet communications. The chances are that we will see internet merchants move away from email marketing to exploit these much more dynamic methods for customer communications. And while email will never die as a cornerstone of online communications, from an internet marketing point of view, it is very much out of step with the times.