I was really proud when my daughter sent her first e-mail about two years ago. With at hotmail account an a little help from dad (typing was a somewhat difficult) the electronic mail buzzed off to mom, and that’s where it ended. She hardly sent any mail since then. Not because she’s not on the computer anymore, on the contrary, madam (9 years old) spends more time online then in front of the TV.
But no more e-mail. The coming generation, for whom being online is standard, uses instant messaging (mostly MSN messenger) to communicate online. I don’t always get what they’re chatting about though, it’s communicating for the fun of it (I guess that’s the definition of chatting). When it has to be a bit more structured, the conversation moves to a blog or myspace (myspace.com: 37 million unique visitors in February 2006!). Some teenagers (especially in the US) live on myspace. Posts on their blogs succeed one another at a speed that outpaces many mailboxes.
And what about e-mail as a source of information? Is there anything more practical then a newsletter that keeps you informed of the changes on your favourite websites, without having to visit it? Yes there is, and it’s called RSS (Real Simple Syndication). Through an RSS feed your computer can receive the latest changes automatically, it’s a kind of (free) subscription. You organize your feeds just as you want, by subject, per type of site or simply chronologically, thus building your personal stream of information.
In fact, every type of e-mail today has a better alternative. And those alternatives have two things in common. One: they take ‘permission marketing’ one step further. This time the consumer decides him/herself to go and read a blog or refresh an RSS feed. Two: the interaction (response) is even easier and faster then clicking a button in an e-mail. It’s faster to type an answer in a messenger window, push enter and the message has already arrived. Faster, more interactive and totally under control, that’s the way the modern consumer want it.
This is my evolution theory:
Invitation > E-card > iCal
Courier > E-mail attachement > Online hard disc
Fax > E-mail > Instant Messenging
Letter > E-mail > Blog
Newspaper > Newsletter > RSS
And …, before all you marketer run of to your creative agency or media planner to get a communications plan build with these new media, remember this: consumers choose these channels because they have them under control and because interaction is easier. So be ready for that.