That’s an impressive headline. From the release:
Study author Mark Laver noted that ‘when you look at some of the new communications platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and [MSN] Messenger, that have taken off in the last few years the decline in email usage is really not that surprising, what is surprising is the size of the decline that is happening.’
One of the reasons that email usage may have declined so dramatically are emerging communications platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and various Instant Messengers. In fact, Facebook users send an average of 16 messages inside of that platform each week. Those using MSN Messenger or Blackberry Messenger are sending even more messages on a weekly basis.
And the takeaway:
These findings also have significant implications for those businesses that rely on email marketing for some or all of their business. These companies should be evaluating to see if social media platforms are an effective method for distributing their message.
Sounds logical, right? Email is down, and there’s lots of people using Facebook, Twitter and various IM networks, so marketers should be considering dropping email and shifting over to social networks.
And yet. Statistics Canada recently noted that email is still the most common activity undertaken by online Canadians — at 93%, e-mail was still the most common online activity from home in 2009. This was far ahead of even “general browsing for fun or leisure,” the second most common activity reported by 78%. & using instant messaging was only reported by 45% in 2009 — which in fact represents a decline, from 50% in 2007.
Turning back to the Ipsos findings, note that these are based on email received. The question that was asked: “In an average week, how many emails do you receive (including spam)?” I think that the inclusion of spam in the question is actually very significant. My experience with spam over the last few years has been that I get far less of it. From Gmail to my ISP to my workplace email, I see very little spam these days — a far cry from a few years back when I started every day by cleaning out my inbox of the overnight clutter of unsolicited weight loss/cheap meds/penis enlargement (or worse) crap.
So I’m left wondering whether the 35% decline in email rec’d since 2008 reported by Ipsos is due to better spam filters? I’ll bet improvements in this area have had a significant impact. My theory is that while overall emails received is down, the signal to noise ratio has improved greatly. Meaning that email marketing of the legitimate kind — where people has actually signed up to receive your messages — would actually benefit from this decline of inbox clutter.