Six Years After Its Death Sentence, Is Email Really Dead?

Back in 2010, Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, proclaimed that email had hit its peak and was on its way out.

This caused quite a bit of talk in the world of marketing, which even now relies on email for a lot of its efforts. A lot of people dismissed her speech as a barely veiled sales pitch, which doesn’t seem entirely unlikely.

But maybe Sandberg was right in some ways. She said that to see the future of tech, we need to observe the tech that teenagers are using today.

Despite how that might make you feel, she isn’t wrong.

She said that, as of 2010, most teenagers weren’t sending email every day.

Fast forward to 2016.

She’s right. There are a lot of people in the business world, including myself, that don’t send an email every day.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that email is dying, it means that email is changing. Just because I don’t send email everyday doesn’t mean that I’m not using it. In fact, the opposite is true. I check all three of my inboxes every day. And it’s in a way that marketers can use and appreciate. I use email to check for notifications about shipments I have coming and notifications from my social media accounts. I see the emails from the blogs I’ve subscribed to and emails from brands that I’ve expressed interest in.

I just don’t send emails to my friends and coworkers every day. Other technologies have filled that hole, like Slack, Skype for Business, texting and of course, Facebook messenger.

Email for Personal Communication is Dying

That’s where this train of thought is leading. Facebook messenger is mainly used for interpersonal communication. That is person to person. It’s usually not a brand directly communicating back and forth with a person.

Texting and messenger services have replaced email all but completely, especially for those in the younger generation. Why spend the time composing an email about something when you can just shoot someone a quick message on Slack?

That’s the question more and more businesses are asking.

But no, email is not dying, its role had just changed since its inception. Let’s explore some of those changes.

Building Relationships

One of the most unique parts about emails is that it is one of the few ways that brands can start a conversation and ultimately a relationship with its audience. By sending your audience the things that they care about, you start exploring an interesting dynamic.

This is the platform that most consumers choose to be contacted on by brands and just about everyone has one. Not only that, but what is really cool about email is that it is really intimate. Most marketing efforts do not have the ability to reach the audience in a place where they are expecting to receive messages. This means they are more accepting to your message…


Research shows that 32% want fewer emails from the brands with which they have relationships. Ultimately, less is more in email. So if people are unsubscribing in force, then you should probably consider taking a look at your volume. Are you inundating your subscriber list? An email a day? More?

Lay off. Even if someone likes you they are going to get tired of your email joining the hundreds or thousands that flood into their inboxes every day. As many as 28% of consumers say they are annoyed to have to scroll through emails and 39% want to see fewer emails in general.

When people opt-in to your email list it means that they are interested in your brand. Make sure you keep it that that way by making that opt-in worth their while.

Always On and Constantly Growing

You can’t escape email. No one can. Not you or your audience. If you work in the professional landscape, chances are you need to check your email at least daily. Everyone has an email, it’s like your internet social security number. You can’t do much without it. The only difference is that if someone has it, all they can do is send you things, instead of, you know, steal your identity.

It is estimated that by 2017 there will be 4.9 billion email accounts, up from the 3.9 billion in 2013. That amount of growth is astounding. That means if you aren’t utilizing email marketing, well, you are missing out on millions of opportunities for growth

Sales and ROI

Let’s face it. Email is cheap. It’s part of what makes it such an appealing choice to just about every business. Even if your company is composed of two people working part time, you still able to use email marketing to reach your audience. Studies show that email marketing has an ROI of 4,300%. I don’t know about you, but I think that number in unreal. (In a good way.) While email marketing may not be making headlines for the being the biggest trend it still provides value that no other form of marketing can match.


That’s right. Data. Big data even.

You now get to learn more about your audience than ever before. You can learn who is subscribing, why they subscribe, what emails they open, how often they open them and where they were opened. And that’s just the start. There is really no limit to what you can learn from your audience through email.

And the more you learn, the better you can tailor your craft to your audience. Isn’t data fun?


By using responsive design, you are more than able to tailor your emails to hit the mobile inbox. After all, that’s the future of email.

Your design needs to be responsive, as 24 percent of consumers say that they are tired of emails not being formatted correctly for their mobile devices. Because of this, it is recommended that you adopt a “mobile first” making sure that every component in your email displays correctly on mobile, creating a more seamless experience. After all, studies show that more than half of emails are opened on a mobile device.

Convinced yet? I sure am. Email marketing is not dying; email is not dying. It is just evolving into a platform for marketers to do their jobs both cheaper and easier than ever.



What do you think? Is email in it for the long haul? Or is Sandberg right? Let us know in the comments section.


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