Marketing’s Weekly Dose of the Truth

Ken Magill

About Us

Getting ... Very... Tired ... of This


By Ken Magill

Must we discuss this again?

Another report has come out detailing the decline of email usage, particularly among teenagers, spurring another round of articles and posts predicting the death of email.

The following piece of idiocy from Red Herring was a typical example:

“A ComScore report on 2010 digital trends confirms it: Email's future lies with the dinosaurs. With innovative social messaging platforms like Twitter and Facebook, not to mention mobile platforms, Web email is steadily declining, eventually to become as extinct as the brontosaurus and the 8-track cassette.

“While total Web email usage declined by 8 percent in the last year, a more telling sign is its 59 percent decline among users between the ages of 12 to 17. In short, perhaps a day will come that only the dinosaurs of the Internet continue to email each other.”


But let’s consider for a moment the validity of making predictions based on the behavior of teenagers.

I was one in the 70s. If anyone were to make predictions based on our behavior, they’d have said that someday everyone would be smoking weed rolled in joints the size of babies’ arms—oh, and there would be no checking accounts.

Sooner or later, today’s kids will have to operate in the adult world. That means sending resumes to potential employers, getting jobs, sharing documents and presentations, sending proposals to clients and prospects, and sending memos to colleagues, among many other things.

Sure, they could post these documents on their Facebook pages, but then how are they going to let the proper folks know the document is there for them to access? Um, email?

Email may one day disappear, or at least evolve into something we wouldn’t recognize now, but making predictions on its future based on the behavior of 12 to 17 year olds is foolish.

Note: John Rizzi, president and CEO of e-Dialog, posted a thoughtful piece on ComScore’s report you can access here.


Show: Newest | Oldest

Post a Comment
Your Name:
Please type the letters in the image above

Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Ken Magill
Date: 2011-02-15 16:52:55
Subject: Thank Loren

"Fogot" Man, I can be an idiot. "Forgot" is what I meant, of course.
Posted by: Chet Dalzell
Date: 2011-02-15 16:42:59
Subject: Email RIP? I Think Not

What about all these "game-changers" for email using MY email address as their unique individual identifier? Perhaps email's future is as secure as ever -- security notwithstanding.
Posted by: Ken Magill
Date: 2011-02-15 16:41:16
Subject: Thanks Loren

I meant to post a link to your piece and in the thick of things fogot. Thanks for supplying it.
Posted by:
Date: 2011-02-15 16:39:47

Posted by: John Rizzi
Date: 2011-02-15 16:28:20
Subject: Optimize for mobile e-mail

Thanks, Ken for an entertaining, insightful analysis of the analysis, or lack thereof in many cases. Loren – I remember your Red Wine post and enjoy how it exposes the logical fallacies of these types of conclusions. As I mention in my blog post on the comScore study (thanks for linking to it, Ken), for me the key take-away from this report is the mandate for e-mail marketers to optimize their messages for mobile phones. For another good read along the lines of Ken’s angle, check out Patricia Robles’ post on the eConsultancy blog – “When will the ‘death of email’ die?
Posted by: Kathy Tito
Date: 2011-02-15 16:27:52
Subject: Email swims with fishes farce!

I feel like a teen when I read this, because I want to use this simple one-word rebuttal: "Whatever!". Overestimating the future impact of today's teen communications trends (on business communications of tomorrow) is sort of like watching one of those specials on how the universe was made and worrying about when the sun will burn out. No use losing sleep over these things! If I communicated today, like I did when I was teen, I'd hold most of my phone calls at 11pm, under the covers, with the lights out! And that's just not the type of business I'm in! Kathy
Posted by: Loren McDonald
Date: 2011-02-15 15:30:08
Subject: Teens and Email

Great article as always Ken. Yes, the ludicrousness (word?) of otherwise smart people saying email is dead because their teen texts their friends rather than emails continues. For the near term, the biggest impact on email of social/mobile/SMS/Twitter is personal email. Even an old man like myself uses Facebook messages, Twitter DMs, SMS to communicate with "friends." But for commercial messages, most of us still prefer the functionality, images, format, length of content, personalization, etc, etc that HTML commerical messages enable. Things may be very different 10 years from now, but for the next several, email ain't going anywhere. I wrote a related blog post last year: Teens Don't Drink Red Wine, Red Wine Will Probably Go Away