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Hello and Welcome to Email in a Web 3.0 World

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
11 August 2008

Greetings! I'm Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations here at Silverpop. Some of you may have read my articles in the Silverpop newsletters, Email Insider column or various contributions to DM News, iMedia Connections, MarketingProfs and other industry publications.

I now look forward to contributing regular posts to this newly launched Silverpop blog. My posts will be on a variety of email and marketing topics ranging from trends, best practices and metrics to industry observations. I'll be serious sometimes and occasionally even attempt some humor or to raise something controversial. But goals for my writing and presentations are always the same: to educate, to make marketers think or rethink their views and to do it in a practical and entertaining manner.

I hope you enjoy.

Last week, I spoke on a panel at ad:tech Chicago with four other industry experts on email's role in a Web 3.0 world.

"Wait!" you might be thinking. "What is Web 3.0, and what happened to Web 2.0?"

Relax … Web 3.0 isn't here yet, but it's coming on the heels of Web 2.0. Futurists envision it combining Web 1.0's one-way informational reach and Web 2.0's collaborative tools to create the "intelligent Web" to make information gathering and sharing even easier.

Four Rules for Email in a Web 2.0/3.0 World

  1. Email users are in control now.

  3. Email users have lots of options for gathering information but have less time to deal with them.

  5. Email consumers are changing.

  7. The inbox is changing.

A little explanation:

  1. Users will decide if, when and where they'll read your email and on which platform. It won't always be on their PC or sitting at their desk, but, for example, while sitting at a stoplight and viewed on their iPhones, for example.


  3. Users have many choices for receiving messages. They'll prefer some via email, others via SMS (text), some via blogs or RSS feeds and others via direct or voice mail. They might sign up for an airline's promotional emails but prefer SMS for flight alerts. So, you need to give them more than a single option.


  5. Email consumer demographics are changing, but email is not dying. Yes, teens and college students live on texting, IMing and Facebook walls, but they're going to grow up eventually and join the adult world, where email still rules. When was the last time you rode your skateboard to work?


    Yes, the texting generation (18- to 24-year-olds) will change how businesses interact with consumers, but this age group only comprises 10 percent of the U.S. population, while the 20+ age group will make up 72 percent in 2010. The newspaper generation still rules.

    Email use is shifting. Text messages, IM and social networks such as MySpace and Facebook are clearly replacing consumer-to- consumer emails for many people. But email still rocks for business communications. A Habeas survey found 67 percent of North American adult users prefer it when dealing with business, compared to 34 percent for the Web, the next-highest channel.



  7. The inbox is changing. As smartphone sales go through the roof, the inbox and message view are shrinking. Your email will not look the same way on a smartphone as it does on the PC. And your subscribers will often look at the same email on different platforms. It's critical to design messages both to render well on multiple platforms and support each other's business goals.


    The wireless market is small now, about 6 percent to 10 percent of users, but you can probably expect that as much as 25 percent of some email subscriber lists will interact with your email on a mobile device and PC in the next few years.

    Email goes viral in the social network. Email subscribers will be able to post their messages on their social-network pages, which is like forward-to-a-friend on steroids.




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