My (main) personal inbox is out of control. The “unread emails” total of my work email inbox elicits gasps from colleagues when I share my screen, if I’m foolish enough to leave it visible. And now, I have a Temple email inbox to contend with.
OK, so I admit that I am a digital pack rat. And Google’s gmail doesn’t help with it bragging that I “won’t even need to delete emails to save space!” considering its 15GB of storage. Thanks, Google, just what I needed, an extra reason to question myself as I am about to delete an email from Whole Foods and notice it has an interesting recipe that I may want to make some day (by the way, I don’t cook).
The product of this is pure overwhelm. Considering that many of us look at our email on a mobile device, it makes the overwhelm even worse. Actual important emails get so buried, I miss or forget them. Any site that you want to visit makes you enter your email just to have a peek! It’s my own fault for not using my “other” email for these purposes, I suppose. Still, Wayfair, how many times are you going to tell me that you have new Cat Condos in stock? Get the message already, I’m not going to buy one from you.
That’s a pretty big windup to get to the real question at hand: as a digital marketer, where do you draw the line? How much is too much when it comes to using email as a marketing tool? And what does the future even hold for email?
In researching this, I found a piece from the publication Inc. dated April 2015. The headline reads “Why Email Will Be Obsolete by 2020.”  It points to the enormity of Facebook and Twitter then [insert how it is in comparison today], and talks about the possibility of “a tool that knows, monitors, understands, and archives the digital communication methods [he uses] automatically.” Sounds kinda nice, but it hasn’t borne itself out to my knowledge…or, wait a minute, is that what Ryan Howard was trying to create?*
The Rumors of Email’s Death are Greatly Exaggerated
Fast forward to June 2019, where Nigel Davies wrote in Forbes, “It’s Probably Time To Stop Announcing The Death of Email”  The same article quotes Sid Suri, CMO of Manychat, which is a Messenger Bot Marketing company, as saying “Email will continue to be a primary channel to communicate with somebody whose phone number you don’t have, but it will continue to get chipped away by [various] niche apps that will take over email’s role … and replace it with more messaging-based solutions. While email will not be the primary channel, it is useful to have a channel of last resort that everybody is passively on… Email is the new snail mail in many ways.”
The other similarity between snail mail and email – a lot of it goes straight into the trash (analog or digital trash). And with email, it’s a bit easier to set up rules to make that happen – or to just unsubscribe. That does require some organization on the user’s part. Sometimes we humans don’t want to spend the time to make that happen (especially when Google dangles that 15GB storage in our faces).
As we move past our humble beginnings as “freshmen” in the DIM program, I suspect we will delve more deeply into these questions. There are so many factors, so much data to consider. Where are people communicating? Are messaging apps mainly for quick conversations, and will traffic moving there actually free up email inboxes? Who are we trying to communicate to?
I won’t count email out just yet, but I think we’ll need to keep an eye on its vital signs and see how healthy it stays in the years to come.
*Image of Ryan Howard (not the Phillies player) from “The Office.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check here.
 John Brandon, “Why Email Will Be Obsolete by 2020,” Inc., 4/16/2015
 Nigel Davies, “It’s Probably Time To Stop Announcing The Death of Email, ” Forbes, 6/24/2019