Email marketing: State of the inbox, 2011 and beyond

Posted by Lori Luechtefeld on April 12th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Is email dead yet? Is social killing email? Is mobile killing email?

Email marketers are all too used to hearing that barrage of pessimistic questions. But several presenters at ad:tech were on hand to assure attendees that rumors of email's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Ryan Tuttle, VP of strategic services at BrightWave Marketing, noted that email still tops Facebook in terms of how people are communicating with each other. Likewise, many people point to low adoption of email among young people as a signal of its imminent demise. But, by that reasoning, one might conclude that because teens aren't drinking red wine, red wine will soon be dead, Tuttle noted.

In fact, Tuttle said, email is alive and well. Social and mobile aren't email killers. Rather, they are email boosters, as evidenced by the adoption of email-powered social buying sites and mobile email platforms.

Matthew Kirsch, director of email marketing for Walgreens, concurred that email's power remains strong. Following his presentation of a Walgreens case study, Kirsch noted that growing email lists remains a constant challenge for email marketers today. To combat this challenge, Walgreens has leveraged organic list-building techniques, eAppend, and in-store sign-up boxes.

Hayley Osher, director of member engagement at HauteLook, noted that email is vital to her business -- as well as the bane of its existence. While email drives 50 percent of her site's traffic, cutting through inbox clutter and ensuring near-100 percent deliverability is becoming increasingly challenging. Thus, adhering to email best practices is more important than ever, she noted. But the hassle is worth it. "If Facebook were to disappear tomorrow, we could still survive," she said. "If email were to disappear tomorrow, that would be the end of HauteLook."

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