The youth and email: a maturing relationship?
Back in the days when I was running a pirate radio station, still in high school and talked mostly about games, hardware and anything-but-pop-music, youth and email were not someting working together a lot. It was about 1997 when I got my first email address at Hotmail (see a 1997 introduction video of Hotmail as webmail here) and I didn’t actually use it much: I was 18 back then. What was I using for online communications? Mostly forums and chatrooms, and for personal stuff ICQ and MSN. Email was for when my aunt in Australia wanted to send me something or for when I needed to setup a reminder for myself (no Google Calendar back then, the company didn’t exist yet). It wasn’t essential nor added enough value for me to use extensively back then.
The point I’m getting at is this: even with all the growth in email services these days (and what you can actually use those services for), not all age groups love it. The post at DM News pointing out the fact that current youth has an aversion to email but that they will grow to appreciate it at a later stage in life is simply more evidence towards the key point that the youth values other means of online communications besides email. Now this is not 1997 anymore: Facebook and Twitter have arrived, smartphones have arrived en masse with apps like Ping on BlackBerry and also WhatsApp on other platforms and therefor the use of chat and IM like ICQ / MSN has been declining with the youth, but the love for email is small or non-existent as well.
Where does this leave email marketing? How do you sell your products and services to people who are between the age of 12 to 23, for instance? Email should not be the only channel you’re doing your marketing with, so when the youth is your target find out where they hang out and what communications platforms they use. Advertise on there, get their (email) optin from there. Andrew Lipsman of comScore noted in the DM News article that there is a new range of options for marketers: I beg to differ and will just say that the options have always been there online, just with other platforms and channels. 14 years ago those platforms were forums, ICQ, MSN and some early bird social media sites (like Lycos, Orkut or here in the Netherlands CU2): these days it is the previously noted heavyweights Facebook, and Twitter but also BB Ping and WhatsApp. Catch them where they are: email will follow as a channel later on, don’t worry.
Scott Cohen has his own take on the youth and email called Email marketing quick take: teen adoption of email, worth a read.