Email - take your last bow. | DMA

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Email - take your last bow.


To give you some background to the following article, I wrote an article piece two years ago about the death of email.

I knew at the time that this maybe a long drawn out Shakespearean death role but it was inevitable.

Why was I so sure?

My then 13 year old daughter who had her face permanently planted to her iPhone like most youngsters these days was inadvertently showing me the future.

The immediacy of apps and chat messaging with friends from school and the quality of bringing one into direct and instant involvement with something or someone has given the next generation a sense of urgency or excitement involving these platforms.

After many “Ella, please get your face out from your phone” screams, which is a bit embarrassing in an a la carte restaurant and normally swiftly followed by a look from my daughter that reminded me of " what ya talking about willis" from my favourite tv program as a child - different strokes. I started to try and understand why it was so engaging and why it was clearly something afflicting and influencing my daughter and all her friends.

Working at Clickwork7 affiliate network I was interested to truly understand this demographic’s mindset and better understand why mobile devices play such a critical role in how Millennials engage with brands, as well as each other. While mobile wasn’t the only way they interact, it was becoming the primary channel for more and more of our younger generation.

The article I wrote previously touched on the mobile devices being so personal, they go to the bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen with most of us and particularly Millennials.

However, Millennials don’t want to be bombarded with sales messages. If your company takes this approach, they will shut you off or find ways to work around interacting with you at all costs.

Storytelling instead of selling was becoming the fad. Building relationships via content that engages the end user rather than talking at them with a sales message was one of the biggest shifts I had seen in marketing in many years and maybe ever.

I won’t elaborate any further because this is old news and I went into much deeper context two years ago.

So why has this spelled the death throes of emails when we have been told this so many times in the past?

Firstly it’s logical. The next generation simple don’t use email as their chosen method of communication, therefore as my generation gets older and my daughter’s generation becomes the purchasers of tomorrow, you can safely say email will be consigned to two old marketer’s reminiscing in the pub about the good old days of email.

But wait that’s a few years from now… right? Let’s not order two Guinness’s and get the dominos out quite yet.

Or is it?

We all saw the rise of WhatsApp and Snapchat and Facebook’s refocus on its messaging app.

While the number of available options compose a sizable list, most people depend on a finite number of apps and services.

All of these messaging platforms share the same core features: text and voice chat, photo sharing and location data and have seen massive growth in all demographic groups not just the Millennials.

This seems to me as being stage one. Platforms and users finding new an interesting ways to engage with each other and engaging with brands and products.

I read an interesting article by Daniel Burrus a Tech Futurist back in March which I shall link at the bottom of the next paragraph.

This article was entitled “Does the Rise of Slack Signal the Slow Demise of Email?” and is a worthy read talking about the rise of messaging platforms in the work place and I will share a paragraph here.

“In a digital age where we are increasingly expected to bring our unique voice to the workplace, it seems there is a new generation of tools emerging that will finally allow you to communicate via a medium that enables you to utilize the nuances of your personality in ways that email could only dream of” ~ Daniel Burrus.

As in most cases in human history the youth or Millennials are always leading the way in adopting new ideas or better ways to communicate that utilize the nuances of your personality to paraphrase Daniel.

Some brands have not been slow in recognising this trend and an increasing number of brands now endeavour to communicate direct to the end user via direct messages via apps or messaging platforms and no longer require or want to hope that an email message “got through” in a timely fashion.

If the engagement with social and business messaging platforms wasn’t enough to spell the end of our beloved email broadcast then I think the fast approaching stage 2 evolution of this modern phenomenon maybe be just that.

The Chatbot or Bot’s

What are Chatbots I hear you cry and what does the mean for my already socially disjointed child and indeed for my workplace. Let me shed some light for you.

Biz Carson a tech reporter from San Francisco described Chatbots in a more succinct way than I ever could.

In the simplest terms, it's a piece of software that you chat with to get things done or be entertained.

Think of it as a replacement for all of the apps you have downloaded. Instead of opening the weather app to see the temperature, you can ask a bot and it will tell you the weather instead.

Eventually, a single Chatbot could become your own personal assistant to take care of everything, whether it's calling you an Uber or setting up a meeting. Or, Facebook Messenger or another platform might let a bunch of individual chatbots to talk to you about whatever is relevant.

You may not know that Facebook is developing an all-purpose digital assistant for its Messenger app called M. Early testing show that M can handle everything from booking flight reservations to reserving concert tickets.

A recent article from Time magazine pointed out that other platforms are further along in their chatbot experiments. On Kik, a messaging app aimed at teens, users can chat up as many as 100 different bots.

“We think chat is something that will become like the app ecosystem,” says Paul Gray, director of platform services at Kik. “For a developer, it’s very easy to build a bot and it’s very easy to deploy. It’s much harder to build, deploy and maintain an app.”

For a better view of our bot-dominated future, take a look at China. There, people are already using popular messaging app WeChat to do everything from book medical appointments to shop for clothes. Some of that activity happens through text messaging, while other experiences look more like mobile websites in the WeChat app. A Microsoft-developed WeChat bot that simulates a conversational and empathetic persona has attracted millions of users.

Chatbots are not just a way to for customers to reach out to companies – they can also be efficient and intelligent assistants.

Statistics tell us that most users from all demographics only have a finite number of apps they want or need to engage with.

A recent Nielsen analysis found that on average, global smartphone users regularly accessed just 26 apps —a number that has remained relatively constant over the last two years, even as the number of apps on offer has climbed.

Why do you need 26 apps on your phone for weather, booking tickets or order a cab when one simple bot will do this all for you?

The simple answer is that we don’t and soon we won’t need them at all. This all might seem too simple. But to us, that’s the great thing about bots. They can reduce friction to as close to zero as computing allows.

Conversing constantly with an overly helpful virtual assistant won’t always be the quickest way of doing something, in fact it may even become tedious. But I can’t wait to never have to hold the line for customer service again - and delete all my unused apps for one last time.

Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I am willing to learn!

So this may also spell the end of apps as we know them but to bring this to the original conclusion I was coming to in an “around the mountain kind of way”.

Where does email sit in all this tech and immediacy culture we have created?

Well simply it doesn’t leave it anywhere. It will not any longer be required although I see the workplace adoption being slower than the consumer adoption. But as these newer methods filtrate our personal lives it is only a matter of time before it extends to our business lives as it becomes the norm and eradicates older technologies in its wake.

Grant Saxon Rowe

GM – Submission Technology

GM – Clickwork7

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