University Web Developers

University Web Developers

So one of the most discussed topics at eduWEB 2008 was the topic of email being dead. Let's here people's opinion. I'll chime in with my deeper thoughts soon (once I get through this backlog of stuff), but in the mean time here are some links to get the conversation going.

* The video stream including Mark's Keynote Address that Kicked off the Debate

* My Presentation on Email Marketing at eduWEB 2008

Finally in Mark's Blog Post wrap-up he states:
"For the record, I don’t believe e-mail is dead. I do believe that e-mail is broken. I’ll be writing about this more in the coming weeks. My goal is to think strategically about how e-mail fits into the myriad of communication channels now at our disposal."

Let the discussion begin!

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Email is too useful, despite it's obvious flaws, to die.

Email is:

-Available any time you want, almost anywhere you want
-Waits for you when you ignore it
-Stores everything you send or receive - it archives all your conversations
-Sortable, searchable

It allows conversations happen over time scales that are convenient for all parties. They can be fast or slow. It's waiting for me when I get to work in the morning. It forgets nothing. I can access it from anything with an Internet connection.

Yes, it keeps telling me that I need to enhance my maleness, send money to Nigeria, buy stocks and drugs, and watch Brittany Spears do unnatural things.

But I couldn't live without it.

Fact: 75% of the business that I conduct for my photography business happens entirely via email, including delivery of work. Zero phone calls. Zero in-person meetings. Zero tweets.
My question would be "Dead to Who" (or is it "whom")? If we're talking about professionals, then obviously no, it's not (as others have said, I get enough legitimate email to call it dead). My question is more toward students, prospective and current. I don't think it's dead, I think they choose to read and use email to talk to us - adults or "old people" (as one study called us), but not necessarily their friends.
One piece of research I've read is from PEW called Teens and Social Media. It was published in December 2007.

Here is an excerpt from page IV:

Email continues to lose its luster among teens as texting, instant messaging, and social networking sites facilitate more frequent contact with friends.

Despite the power that email holds among adults as a major mode of personal and professional communication, it is not a particularly important part of the communication arsenal of today’s teens. Only 14% of all teens report sending emails to their friends every day, making it the least popular form of daily social communication on the list we queried. Even among multi-channel teens, who are more likely to take advantage of any communication channel they have access to, just 22% say they send email to their friends daily.

My question for the discussion is will this impact teens using e-mail for communication with colleges down the road? If they are using other channels to communicate with their friends, will they start using less e-mail in general?
Mark I think using this report skews things a bit because you're talking about looking at teens social media habits - not their email habits. We've known since the 2005 Pew report that they were moving to different mediums to communicate with their friends, and it makes sense. I rarely email my friends and its usually just if I'm trying to reach a big group of people at once. Usually its IM or text or :::gasp::: calling them on my phone. As Brian points out (and I think this is from the 2005 report...), teens are still very much using email to communicate with old people and institutions - anyone they consider "business" contacts. Like I posted on your blog, I have empirical stats to show that when I worked in admissions, 33% of the class who enrolled in 2007 applied as a direct result of an email I sent them. Would they have applied anyway? Maybe, maybe not.

Additionally, it depends on what you consider success when it comes to email. What are you trying to achieve? Most colleges have shotty email plans at best....they use email because everyone else is and most of the time its for bloody newsletters. Very few really take it to the next level in terms of segmenting messages to appeal to a specific audience. If you do that, teens ABSOLUTELY respond. Try emailing them after they've deposited to attend your school and your rates will be unreal. I use to do "accept triggers" which were sent to each student within a week of them receiving acceptance letters - 80% open rates and 60% click through rates. That's UNHEARD of, especially for a dead medium. On the other hand, if you're emailing to seniors who haven't applied to your school in the spring of their senior year, of course your rates are going to suck because they aren't interested anymore. It's all about context.

OK, I'm going to stop ranting now :-)
I sometimes wish email was dead, but frankly, I don't think it'll be going anywhere anytime soon. Email is just another resource in our communications toolbox. I think other tools such as instant messaging, blogging, wikis, and forums have their place, but no one tool can completely trump email in most situations.
Imagine working without many instant message windows, voice mail notifications, and forums would you have to sift through in order to get your job done?
Besides, how else would your boss be able to send the entire university a picture of her cat with a hat on?
You had to start it didn't you....

Here is my blog on the subject:

I thought your first slide was brilliant. After attending Mark's keynote on Monday, and knowing I was planning on attending your presentation the following day, I was curious as to how/if you would broach the subject.

In this case, I think both of you are correct. E-mail is obviously not the preferred choice of communication amongst the traditional prospective students today, and chances are it will stay that way. However, as long as we have "old people" returning to complete their education, "old people" working in the profession, and "old people" as our other constituents (alums, donors, etc), e-mail still has a viable place at institutions of higher learning.

Have to say this was my first trip to edu Web, and really the first time I became aware of a lot of things on this side of the fence (spent the last 10 plus in athletics), and it was the most useful Conference I have attended in quite some time. Kudos to all involved in running the event and presenting the topics.
*grabs popcorn and takes a seat in the front row*
Not anything you haven't heard before but my 2 cents. My experience (having lived through 3 teenagers) ..high school age doesn't use email at all, they send files through AIM and communicate with their cellphones, facebook, text and IM. Once they get into college they are forced to use email for classes but they rarely use it to communicate with friends. Once graduated from college email is a primary tool for job searches so they are constantly using it. Seems to me it's a waste of time to use it for marketing for undergrad recruitment but makes a lot of sense for grad school or the adult student.
I would be very interested to see actual stats from email marketing campaigns to high school students that show it as being a waste....
It seems that teens use all forms of social media, texting, IMing, tweets, etc. with their friends because when they want to communicate with friends, they want to communicate with them NOW, in real time. As mentioned before, email allows a conversation to take place at each party's convenience.

In working with college students with my previous employer (also happened to be my Alma Mater) it seemed that email was an acceptable form of communication, because we were "doing business". I also taught a course, and my students preferred to communicate with me via email and, yes, the PHONE! They even preferred to email assignments rather than print and turn in...fine with me! Saved lots of paper. Although, they did not like to use the school-issued email account; I think they just wanted me to have to email them at ....
I think it's worth noting that some of the "new" forms of social media communications are essentially email, repackaged. A lot of teens would say that they don't use email anymore, but they do write on each other's Facebook "walls" or send Facebook "messages."

Using Tony's list of email selling points, Facebook (or other social network) messages are:
-Available any time you want, almost anywhere you want
-Waits for you when you ignore it
-Stores everything you send or receive - it archives all your conversations
-Sortable, searchable (okay, this one is a stretch)

The medium of email isn't dead, it's just gone underground to a point where it's more difficult for marketers and spammers to get to it. It's the same system rebuilt inside a walled garden where it's easier to manage who contacts you.

So the question becomes: How do we get inside this closed system, and do we really want to?



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