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Where is Email Communications Headed?

I have fallen into a rather nasty habit of putting some emails aside for action for a month or more. I have a triage system for incoming emails. If they don’t require my immediate attention or action within a period of time to avoid pain of some sort, I just let them sit. Maybe that’s a bad thing. Or maybe not.

This whole topic got me musing with a friend (victim of my “waiting period”) about how the use or purpose (or both) of email is shifting. I have no scientific study to reference here. This is all based solely on my own observations as a business communicator and as someone who has, through the years, adopted relatively quickly to new technologies. (I’m not at the leading edge of the curve, but I’m in the early part of the gentle slope.)

Think about the shift in the way we communicate via writing. I’m talking about the masses, not the tech savvy, by the way. Back in the day we sent postal letters or the occasional telegram. We figured out how to move those faster with couriers and overnight services. And there was fax. When email came along, we wrote what looked like letters ? long, correctly punctuated, capitalized, spelled and otherwise structured communications. Over time many of those emails have become swift one liners. Now, things like SMS, Twitter and Facebook give us the brevity and immediacy that allow us to hop from one thing to another.

What is to become of email? For now, I still look to email for longer form, meaningful, one-to-one content ? something that is meant for me or the receiver personally, but can’t be expressed in a mere 140 characters. I also still use it to look for news that I’ve requested. And, of course, I still use it to talk to people who haven’t made it to other messaging or social media.

If I’m anywhere near right with my observations, our communications evolution has a big impact on email marketing. So, what do you think? Where is email headed? Please comment below. Or, hey, send me an email.

6 Comments

  1. 1

    I think there will always be a place for email … or at least something that resembles how we interact via email today. We will always need a means for direct one-to-one written communication, and have instances where what we write will need to be more detailed than 140 characters allow.

    The beauty of emerging technology is that we can reduce our email clutter by using other avenues for communication that doesn't fit that definition. SMS for short instant messages, IM for near real-time messaging, Twitter and Facebook for one-to-many messages, RSS for receiving notifications, Google Wave for team collaboration, and so on.

  2. 2

    I agree that email has shifted a bit but I'm sometimes reminded that I am part of that "early adopter" group at the beginning of the curve. For this reason, I am sometimes surprised when I am reminded through interactions with others that many people are still just "getting the hang of" email. I look at email as semi-formal business communication medium, while Facebook is for my personal messaging. I don't have a personal email account, just a business account. Email for me is also my central inbox of information… not just for communication. My newsletters come in via email, my alerts, my business messages, etc. and I use Inbox Zero to process everything.

  3. 3

    One of the things I'm struggling with the most with email is our dependence upon it. One of my clients called me this week and asked why I hadn't responded to her emails… winds up that they someone started getting flagged as SPAM and in my Junk Email folder.

    It's unfortunate that email has not evolved. It also doesn't help that the keepers of email (Microsoft Exchange and Outlook) are still running on 10 year old technologies. Outlook still renders with a word processor rather than adapting new technologies!!!

    I agree that these other technologies are helping… but maybe we're really praying for something new to come along since email has so many dependency issues.

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    I get your point even I have been using my email less and less most of my friends send me messagest o my Social Network account. But I think email is not dead or near its death sure with some new features added it will still be here for a long time.

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