A recent report released Monday from by ComScore has alot of email marketers wondering about the future of their businesses. Trust me, I’ve been getting emails from alot of people and some reactions are outright panic.
The report from the ComScore 2010 Digital Year in Review provides a snapshot of usage trends across the digital space. The report basically breaks down usage statistics by age groups and according to the report, total web-based email was down eight percent last year. More alarming is the individual group statistics. There was an large 59% drop among 12 to 17 year olds, an 18% drop among 25 to 34 year olds, and a 12% drop for 45 to 54 year olds. The only age group to increase their use of email was the 55 to 64 year olds, up 22%, which the report attributed to new users among that age group. Here’s the graph from the report.
The rise of social networks is what’s happening. Only an idiot would argue against the success of social networks and with the emergence of all these new communication channels, email use has gone down. No mystery there.
But should email marketers worry?
I don’t think so and here’s why. When email was the only game in town, everybody used it for everything. Remember those long chain emails? In fact I think Craigslist was founded this way. But today, technologies like twitter, texting, and social networks (facebook) have supplanted email as the communication medium of choice for certain things. Instant messages to your friends? Text. Broadcast a rant about something? Twitter or facebook.
But none of these technologies can do what email does. Sure, I know facebook is working on a new email service but whatever it may be in the future, it’s a poor email service now. Email is private, email can be filtered and stored, email can be copied, forwarded, and edited. Email is flexible. In my opinion, the usage statistics are just showing that email has stopped being the medium of choice for frivolous communication. Businesses will continue to use email to communicate to customers and it’s not like web-based email is standing still either. Most people don’t even know half of what’s possible with gmail.
So don’t fret and keep building those email lists.