The crazy tempo of evolution in email marketing

Last week Christopher Marriot posted an article called “Is this the end of email marketing?“ In which he hinted that email marketing has come to the end of it’s evolution. Chris is a long time writer about digital marketing (some articles dating back 2006), he sure knows something about the matter. But did the evolution of email stop as he suggested? I don’t agree. Let’s take a look.

Christopher Marriot writes:
A look at the plethora of articles appearing monthly reveals a depressing sameness about them: […. ] You get the picture. Those of us who regularly write about email continue to revisit the same topics over and over again — because what else is there to write about?

I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of that as well. After all, after 12 columns a year, year in and year out, you begin to run out of new things to write about.

There is enough interesting email thinking out there

First of all, there are enough new and interesting articles being written. Just take a look at our email marketing reading list each week. So that doesn’t fly. But even if we go with the premise that not much new ideas are put out there on blogs, what does that say about the evolution of a channel? It doesn´t say anything about the evolution. E-mail is changing in each and every direction, within interaction with other channels, different forms of content, use on new devices and refinement of tactics. Standing still, not really. Changing in a rapid pace: yes. If you can’t call that evolution within a channel, i am not sure what you can call evolution.

The value of writers and newcomers

Second you should think about the writers and the public of these articles. Who is writing and who is reading? Sometime it’s the people new to email that basically use blogging as a platform to share their own newfound insights. That is not bad. That is evolution on a personal level and it serves a purpose as well, getting the people even newer to email to start paying attention and the ones that are in the industry a bit longer to remember and revisit those topics.

Also there is a run of “more general” editors or journalists that think email is an interesting topic to write something about. That is great, but it does lead to a lot of “copy-paste without knowing” behavior. Is that where we will see mind changing and forward thinking about the evolution of email? No, but that is probably also not what their audience is looking for.

He continues:
So I did a little research. I entered the phrase “how email marketing can improve your display advertising” into Google. Zero results relating to that question. Then I typed “how email marketing can improve your search marketing.” I got one hit that was the reverse — “How SEO can improve your email marketing.” I did it again with social, and got one result that addressed the issue. Most of the others were how social can improve your email marketing. […] Most of what is published around this tactic is from the sell side. And it’s not a lot.

Challenge accepted Chris, I will write down some of my thoughts on “how email marketing can improve your search marketing” in a next post. 😉

An email marketing evolution anology

Think about music, an art that has evolved dramatically over time. Compare music now with three years back. Of course there are new people learning how to play the guitar. The more people who are learning, the more we might read about how to play the guitar. Also we see a lot of golden oldies being played and re-released or interpreted in a new way. Does that say there is no new music? Of course not. Does that say anything about the evolution of music? You also need to listen to a variety of channels if you want to catch the new music.

Because there is a group that is bringing new thoughts into email marketing. Changing the way people look at email marketing and marketing as a whole. And if you feel it’s not being done enough, why not pick up the ball and get your ideas out there. But maybe we should also see that writing about topics is not directly related to the evolution of a channel and sometimes look over the fence for new musical influence.

What do you think, did the evolution just start?


Jordie van Rijn

Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant. He specializes in smart email marketing, event-driven campaigns and email tool selection. As a consultant, Jordie will help you get the most out of your email marketing efforts.