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Christopher Knight

22 Reasons Why Email Is Not Dead
By Christopher Knight

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Ever since the invention of XML/RSS, there are many who have been saying that "Email is Dead." While it may be sensationalism at its best to proclaim the end of email as a communication medium; the fact of the matter is that email is not dead nor is it even close to being dead. The advances in authentication and email security technologies are aggressively addressing the evil muck that threatens our care-free trusted use of email to communicate. Here is my brief essay on why "Email Is Not Dead."

  1. It's not dead until I say it's dead. :-)

  2. RSS and XML do not pass "does my mother or father understand how to use it" test. Email passed the test, even though they needed my help setting up spam filters.

  3. Email is easy to use. SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), the basis of Email could always use improvement, but unlike the uncertainty laced in XML syndication standards yet today, email is standardized, stable, and reliable.

  4. Email is still relatively new with millions still signing on for the first time each year. Most people are not early adopters and therefore are comfortable with older technologies. As a marketer, reaching the masses via permission still means EMAIL. Right now, only nerds and early adopters like XML.

  5. When tele-marketers discovered that the telephone could be used to solicit customers, the telephone medium did not die. Just because spammers have clogged the value of email does not mean the medium is over. When postal junk mail became common, the post office did not die, nor did postal mail. For that matter, email did not replace the post office or direct marketing.

  6. Spammers have expanded beyond email anyway. To say that email is dead because of spammers is too narrow of a statement. In fact, "Comment Spam" (the spamming of blogs via the comment system) is a real problem in the blogosphere.

  7. Those who say email is dead (Chris Pirillo, Adam Cury, etc) are years ahead of the masses. Early adopters always need tools designed for their lifestyle while the masses enjoy the simplicity of what they already know.

  8. Our lives are centered on email, and they will remain centered on email for a long while to come. In the morning, I guarantee that every single BLOGGER and early adopter checks his or her email.

  9. Instant messaging is cool, but it is not always on my terms. The asynchronous nature of email allows you to control when you send or receive emails. Email delivers control or at least the perception of increased control.

  10. Email deliverability is a real issue today, and one that may take time to solve. I'm confident it will get solved as many millions are being expended to that end.

  11. Corporations/companies can not adopt the bleeding edge. They will spend money to stop viruses from spreading, stop spam and hackers from invading their network -- but they will not abandon email for many decades to come. It is too expensive of an alternative to consider -- especially when all of their customers, vendors, employees and investors have email accounts.

  12. Depending on how you look at it, email is a push medium that grabs your attention. XML by itself does not grab your attention and it has not been integrated into standard email client software yet. RSS/ATOM readers built into an email client would be nice and when that arrives - its adoption will increase...but it will not entirely displace email.

  13. Bloggers use email to notify people back to their blogs. If email is dead, why does email play a significantly important role at the center of most early adopters business?

  14. The protocols for the current standards we enjoy for email were started in the 1970s. While we are due for a major re-thinking on how email as a medium could and can be used for the future -- it's foundation is 30 years in thought and effort.

  15. The anti-spam tools available today can help you re-take control of your email inbox. Whether you are using simple spam filters or spam filtering services, there is no reason spam has to ruin the value of email to you. The second generation of anti-spam tools have evolved to minimize the possibilities of false-positives and lost emails.

  16. As email clients evolve to include additional tools, RSS/ATOM readers, instant messaging, calendaring, note management, Wiki's and other collaborative tools; the strength of email at the center of communication protocols will ensure that it is far from dead.

  17. Those who say EMAIL IS DEAD have economic interests in RSS/XML. Sure they are saying it because they want their standard to replace email. Can we say, BIASED? :) Of course, I'm biased on the power of email and email lists as a communication method... but it does not have to be an EITHER/OR argument.

  18. RSS/XML will not kill email publishers. In addition to email, they can add this technology. Show me one large email publisher who shut down their email lists because they loved RSS/XML so much more. It is true that new tools and tactics are needed by email marketers and email publishers to keep their subscribers from churning, to keep their emails from being sucked into the spam filters and to keep their emails being opened up, but does not make email dead. It makes email, challenged. We will rise to the occasion.

  19. Email plays such an important role that new tools have been developed to help with measurement of email's effectiveness. Increased testing and measurement tools means that publishers and marketers are able to better use metrics to improve the value of email for themselves and their constituents.

  20. Email may be transient (meaning people change email addresses and forget or intentionally do not update others on their new email address) -- but the XML/RSS world has its own problems with the impermanence of supposedly permanent links.

  21. Think about this: If all email servers of Earth were knocked offline by some evil force, and you could only use RSS, how would you cope? How would you receive your websites order and shipment notifications? How would you be able to use eBay? How many days before spammers invade and turn the RSS world upside down because it does not meet their needs?

  22. Email can be used definitively and dynamically for the START and END of group collaboration, unlike Wiki's and other online web collaboration tools that do not always have a definitive end. Example: Emailing Sally, David, and Suzi about a business problem transcends corporate boundaries, allows you to REPLY-ALL to discuss the issue and when the problem is solved, the emails cease and the issue is closed. Email is easy, quick, and everyone knows how to do it whereas other collaborative tools are not as light or easy to setup and dissolve upon completion of their use.

Many communication mediums go through cycles of spam, info-overload, and ultimately abuse. Email is not dead. It is in the middle of an incredible transformation that will impact you and your bottom line. While other mediums such as XML/RSS/ATOM or Instant Messaging or Wiki's may relieve some of the abuse that has happened to email over the past decade, it'll be many more decades before we'll be reading the cemetery head stone of "Email."

  • XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. XML is a trademark of the World Wide Web Consortium. RSS and ATOM are built on the XML standard.
  • RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.
  • ATOM is a competitor of RSS and is also designed to be a universal publishing standard.
  • "wiki-wiki" is Hawaiian for "quick". Wiki is a web-based collaboration set of technologies.

This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur. Get your weekly dose of Email newsletter publishing, marketing, promotion, management, email-etiquette, email usability and deliverability tips by joining the free Ezine-Tips newsletter:

Ezine-Tips for May 21, 2004

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