Since the Internet was first used for commercial purposes in the early 1990s, email has been the star of marketing. And just as stars across the universe go through lifecycles, so too does email. Today, the medium is heading for collapse, and nothing could be better.
Let’s all put on our Neil DeGrasse Tyson hats for a moment and explore why collapse can mean new beginnings and fascinating discoveries.
A brief introduction to astronomy: A star is basically a giant ball of hydrogen, which reacts to produce helium and other elements. Most stars eventually use up all their hydrogen and burn out. However, supermassive stars don’t simply burn out; they collapse, or go supernova. Their entire mass is squished into a tiny point known as a singularity, becoming a black hole. In the process the supernova ends up creating and spewing out a bunch of new elements — everything from iron to uranium!
Email has generated so much star power that its mass is starting to collapse in on itself. Some might think this spells the beginning of the end for email marketing, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are simply approaching the end of the beginning.
Some of email’s early stage fuel is already burned up. Remember batch and blast? It used to be that companies had one list: Subscribers. One email, sent at the same time, to everyone. It worked. It also led to high levels of throttling, bulking, missing mail, unread mail, and untouched links, much of which continues to stalk less sophisticated email marketing programs today.
Eventually, companies got smarter. Segmentation meant identifying and targeting audiences based on an array of variables, such as engagement rates, browsing histories, demographic information, purchase behavior, etc. In addition, creative customization meant subscribers didn’t have to pick through mass messages to find the parts that were relevant to them. Marketers found ways to make each recipient feel less like one of the crowd, and more like a valued subscriber. Maybe even a human being.