Email Marketing is Dead! (Says Frank Kern)

Frank Kern's State of the Internet Address

Email marketing, a long-time darling of many Internet marketers, may be coming to an end. And it’s not just me saying that, it’s Frank Kern!

Actually, he didn’t say that at all, but something he said sparked this idea.

Let’s start at the beginning: I just recently watched Kern’s State of the Internet Address. It’s an almost 40-minute long video in which Kern talks about the past year in Internet marketing and makes some predictions as to what he thinks the coming years will have in store for us. It’s a great video and I absolutely recommend you go and watch it. There are some really simple and at the same time profound nuggets of information in this clip.

Fairly early on in the video, Kern talks about how the Internet is still very much in the process of going mainstream and how many companies, small and large, are basically clueless when it comes to building relationships with their customers online and marketing their businesses online. This can be a great opportunity for Internet marketers, who specialize in just that.

But here’s the kicker: As an example, Kern says he was working with some band or other and says how their website didn’t even have a value proposition or an opt-in.
He then goes on to say that every baker, every hair salon and generally every business is going to be going online soon (if they aren’t already) and they will need help from people like you (assuming you’re in online marketing).

And it’s this combination of the explicit mention of opt-ins together with the notion of every business going online that got me thinking.

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The problem is, quite simply, that I don’t want to be on my baker’s mailing list. Neither do I want to be on the mailing list of the electronics store down the road, the cinema I go to from time to time, the local groceries store or any other one of the businesses I come in contact with during a typical week.

Even as it already is, the amount of places where you need to plug in an e-Mail address and your name to get something is ridiculous. Sure, as an Internet marketer you are more likely to be exposed to this kind of thing, but seriously: Nowadays every other blog has an opt-in for a free report of some kind or another.

Just recently, I saw a topic on the Warrior Forum, where someone asked if anyone was using their main e-mail address for opt-ins. The unsurprising result: Most people have dedicated spam-addresses for opt-ins. Sure, those are all Internet marketers, but I can say two things from personal experience: First, I have always used a secondary address for opt-ins and second, I have had a ridiculous amount of member accounts all over the Internet for a long time. Since long before I started this whole online marketing thing, in fact.

Quo Vadis, Email Marketing?

All of this makes me wonder how email-marketing is going to develop in the future. The more people make use of opt-ins, the smaller the value becomes, because soon enough, everyone will use expiring e-mail addresses or spam-addresses for that kind of thing.

Many websites have been addressing the account-creation issue by offering OpenID, twitter or facebook logins. This makes a lot of sense, since we like to make use of many online-platforms but no-one wants to have dozens of different accounts and passwords.

Apart from that, e-mail is already showing it’s age. I’m seeing a lot of communication shift away from e-mail and towards instant messaging, VoIP, twittering and other social media type communication devices.

I wonder how list-marketing will adapt and change over the years. Or maybe it won’t? I’m just pretty sure that it will either evolve or dwindle and die.

All the best,

P.S.: Just as a disclaimer: No, Frank Kern didn’t actually say list-marketing is dead and yes: I’m aware that list-marketing works very well. It’s a great way to make money and I’m sure it will remain so for at least another couple of years. There’s no doubt that as time goes on, being truly unique and interesting will become more and more important for email marketers.

Here’s my video on the same subject:

About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better marketer and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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