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Old-Cool Marketing: Is 2016 the Year of the Email?

If I’m remembering correctly in my old age, my first email address was “butrflyem”. Yes, “Butterfly Em”. I think it was at AOL.
I was in high school, and I would use that silly little handle on college applications. I had it all the way through college, and only ditched it after I handed my resume over at a career fair and the recruiter responded, lips pursed, “Butterfly? Cute.”
Ah, youth.
The point being, email has been around for a long time. And it’s gotten more sophisticated over time. (Just like our use of it. Especially in my case.)
But just because many people now think of email as an old-school digital marketing tactic doesn’t mean it’s totally uncool. In fact, email is kind of like the Ray-Bans of marketing: it keeps getting cooler over time, and right now it’s really going through a renaissance.
So why does 2016 seem like it’s gearing up to be the year of the email? 
Old-Cool Marketing: Is 2016 the Year of the Email?
On a recent PNR: This Old Marketing podcast, hosts Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose assert that, yes, email is here to stay. That even though many rising project management tools (like Slack) make it easy to eliminate emailing coworkers and clients, this reduction of your inbox is a huge marketing opportunity.
Rose says:

“If all of a sudden all of my business communications … go to Slack, that dedicates my email box to the things that I want to get that are personal to me.”

Pulizzi says:

“There’s an opportunity for brands that have really compelling email to cut through the clutter that’s out there … I think if you are a brand today that wants to go low-tech and wants to start with creating something amazing to your customers, you could just get away with sending emails for a while.”

He’s right. Just think about The Skimm.

The Skimm is a daily email that does what it says – it skims the latest news and wraps it up in a neat, informative and extremely well-written package for subscribers. From politics to entertainment to sports and more, The Skimm breaks down all the day’s news to provide its loyal readers with the key stories they need to know before starting their day.
What The Skimm ultimately provides is that an email can provide value on its own. It doesn’t need to drive traffic elsewhere to be effective. Just the simple action of being read by its target audience is enough to make it a successful publication.

[Read more about What “The Skimm” Can Teach Businesses About Email Marketing]

So, as Rose and Pulizzi discussed, email may soon be an even stronger way to connect with your core audience, because there will be less competition in your inbox from business communications.
Old-Cool Marketing: Is 2016 the Year of the Email?

What does that mean for you? Start doing your email homework.

Here are some of our most popular blog posts on email marketing, to help you rethink, reevaluate and potentially reinvent the way you approach email communications:

You may also want to check out “The Triumph of Email” in The Atlantic — which is what inspired the PNR episode, and is a really entertaining read. If you’re an old-school nerd like I am.


Tell us what you think, or ask us any questions. We’re here to help!

  • Emily, You previously have said, “Your website is the ‘hello’, not the conversation.” How would you classify email? As the friendly introduction to your website? Too often emails are trying to sell something, but they haven’t even said ‘Hi’ yet!?

    Michael Hurczyn - January 29, 2016 at 8:25 am
  • Hey Michael, great question! Email should be an invited conversation, not a forced hello. If you get someone’s email the right way, it means you’ve already established some level of trust with them. They see the value in what you’re providing and trust you with access to their inbox. It sounds a little cheesy, but it’s not — you can’t break that trust with bad content. You have to continue to provide value, to add to the “conversation.”

    Emily Cretella - January 29, 2016 at 8:45 am

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