I just read Scott Dorsey's debate with Robert Scoble in the Business Week Debate Room. The title of the debate was:
E-mail Faces Deletion: Web 2.0 applications such as Twitter will unseat simple electronic mail as the No. 1 business communications tool. Pro or con?
I thought Scoble made a great case in favor of some of the Web 2.0 technologies that do in fact help overcome some of the weaknesses in email. Obviously, since I'm now in the Corporate Blogging Software business, I feel strongly that technologies like Blogging have a strong place in any Corporate Marketing Mix. The debate continues in both Scoblizer and in the blogs of folks such as Lisa Barone over at BruceClay.com.
In full disclosure, I was a co-founder of ExactTarget and as such have a vested interest in the success of email.
My point goes to support Scott's comment on "Inbox 2.0" and is driven from relevance and data.
The problem with email through out it's history is the abuse by organizations who looked at the medium as "Cheap Paper".
In that light, these people replicated an broken Reach & Frequency advertising model by applying those same Mass Marketing tactics to Email.
This is changing quickly. The beauty of email as a marketing tool is the ability to leverage data and deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.
I may be brand-loyal to Goodyear Tires, but their product isn’t the type for which I would subscribe to their RSS feed or visit their site very often. If they want my business they have to recognize who I am and the best time to send me any communications. To be successful they have to pay attention to me. Know how I buy. Know when WINTER COMES where I live. Or how many miles I’m likely to drive so they can send me the right product reminders...the sort of thing that can be done brilliantly with the right combination of strategy, creativity, email & data.
Beyond face-to-face or the telephone, email is the only way to have a dialog, an actual one-to-one conversation in a medium that is almost universal.
It's been abused for sure...but the profits from email abuse are diminishing....and market forces are driving email marketers to become much more timely and relevant.