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The Eulogy for Email

July 25, 2012

Toronto - Email is so ubiquitous today that the novelty has worn off. In fact, if you are like most people who are flooded with junk mail, email has completely overstayed its welcome.

"Any organization that uses email to market or provide customer service will begin to question the effectiveness of the channel, " says Randall Craig, Social Media and Web strategist, and author of the Online PR and Social Media series. "Will it go the way of the FAX, Telex machine, or the horse-and-buggy?"

In five years traditional email will no longer exist. Randall Craig offers these considerations:

* Internet Service Providers conservatively estimate that 77% of all email traffic is spam. The cost of this filtering is huge, and not economically sustainable.

* The high level of filtering - by ISPs, Companies, and users - means that many 'good' emails never reach their destination.

* Regular email is paid for by the receiver, which means there is no economic disincentive to send mammoth amounts of email.

* Regular email is easily spoofed: hackers can easily change the 'from' details behind the scenes, causing the recipient to think that the mail was actually from someone else.

* There is no way to prove that the sender actually sent the email (non-repudiation) or that the receiver actually received it (proof of delivery.)

* Regular email is insecure: unless you resort to heroic measures, there is no guarantee that the email wasn't copied or tampered with en route. For this reason, email-based ecommerce by companies has been stunted, but millions of regular people unknowingly send their passwords and credit cards via email.

* The rise of the Social Networks means that some conversations now happen as posts and comments.

* Many of the Social Networks, Facebook and LinkedIn prime amongst them, have their own 'walled garden' internal email systems, where authentication, non-repudiation, terms of service and security have weaned many emails away from the public email system.

For email to survive, several things must happen.

The cost of email must transfer from the receiver to the sender. Unlikely to happen everywhere, a two-tier email system may be introduced. The first tier would be a trusted, authenticated, non-reputable, sender-pay system, with practically no spam and an exceptionally high open rate; businesses would deliver invoices, account status, and other secure correspondence. And users would be able to see their email with complete formatting, pictures, forms, and some built-in functionality. The second tier would be some distant variation of the current system, but relegated to an even lower priority for ISPs, and consumers, as the economic justification for email filtering (ISPs) or wading through the spam would no longer exist.

"For traditional marketers, a forced march away from the mighty email list might seem scary, but all is not lost." Adds Randall Craig, "You need to remember that the goal of email is to improve your the relationship, so you must look for alternative modes of communication." Some alternate modes you may already be familiar with are: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the many other social networks. Ramp up the relevance of your blog, then encourage people to read, and comment on, it. And remember that developing relationships is best individually. A stronger personal connection is only possible on the phone and in person.

Identify what it takes for you to cut through the clutter and be heard as well as what you are doing to reach beyond traditional email, just in case. Developing your relationships across several channels, makes it so that each channel reinforces the other - and protects you in case email truly becomes unusable.


Since 1994, Randall Craig has been advising on web and social media strategy. He is the author of six books including the newly published Social Media for Business and the Online PR and Social Media series. For more information visit

For more information contact:
Randall Craig
Pinetree Advisors Inc.
Phone: 416-256-7773 x101

Carolyn Bergshoeff
Phone: 416.256.7773 x 103

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Randall Craig, Social Media and Networking Expert


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