Off of email by 12/31/10

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After 25 years of using email, we try to remove email from our business communication portfolio by end of this year. We removed fax 3 years ago without any problem – we no longer have a fax line even so we get offers for a free fax line and have 2 fax machines in our storage room.

Don’t get me wrong, email was a great invention. But is dying of marketing cancer. I personally receive on average 30,000 emails a month. 26,000 are caught by the server side spam filter – I wasn’t even aware that they come in. 3,000 are then caught by my local spam filter. And that is one reason why I can’t use my iPhone for email because I have no spam filter for my iPhone. That leaves me with about 1,000 emails per month of which I care about 100, or 5-10 per day. And the bad news: The amount of investment in email marketing is increasing – despite the fact that almost nobody is reading those messages.

Here is the plan:

The communication part:
Since six month I communicate with my business contacts mostly via Facebook or LinkedIn messages. Their response is – guess where? On LinkedIn or Facebook. The communication is intermixed by short tweets, messages on walls or responses on blogs and other media. If I receive emails I mostly respond in the social web.

The attachment part
Most of those social network based systems do not allow to send attachments like contracts. But even on email, large attachments have been an issue because some of the companies restrict attachment size. We used YouSendIt.com for years but now I use it for everything I need to attach.

The archive of emails
There are people who still print every email. And then there are people who carefully archive every email in more or less complex folder structures. But do we record every conversation we have when we meet people face to face? No we don’t. Aren’t those conversations even more important and worth storing? Yes. So – I keep the archive in Facebook and LinkedIn as is. My first message in LinkedIn was between Konstantin Guereke and me 2003 – it’s still there. And if I need a specific topic, person or whatever – I just use search. Not very different on Facebook. We don’t “archive” our tweets and comments we make – other than what is kept on the Internet.

CCing hundreds of others
One thing we can’t do on either of those systems is CCing or BCCing hundreds or thousands of others. And that is exactly and the only reason why email died. So if we communicate with a person we have to be personal (social) and that is a good thing. Those who look for “automation” of their communication, I highly recommend: “Do stay on email” It’s the best system to reach out to millions of people at once. You just won’t reach me but that’s OK.

Managing Connections
Without any tools it is hard to manage the connections in all those networks and sites. Jumping from one to the next to find contacts and communicating is difficult. But then there are tools like social address books, aggregator,social CRM and more to help orchestrate the conversation and organize contacts. You find me for instance on http://xeesm.com/AxelS with a wealth of touch points whenever you want to touch base with me. We will still maintain some email accounts for those who want to use email to communicate with us – we don’t want to dictate how to reach out to us, however our response and primary way of communication will be with no email.

What we learn from our kids
Our kids (four of them) are hyper communicative. My daughter once watched TV, talked to a friend in Greece over Skype, was texting another friend in the same time, was searching something on the Internet intermittently and asked my when we have dinner. Will they ever use email – I just can’t imagine.

The conversation age
We humans constantly increased the amount, intensity and complexity of conversations. In particular in the last 100 years we accelerated our communication powers by order of magnitude and with it we increased our skill levels, our ability to learn the amount we learned and the effectiveness of our day to day jobs. Helping teams to communicate more and spend less time organizing what we said in the past is becoming more and more important. Communicating on any available channels what ever makes sense for the other part of the communication is paramount for getting a job done fast and important for a healthy information and skill development. Email has no room in that future – so why keeping it and letting us slow down.

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

5 COMMENTS

  1. Axel,

    There is a typo in your second paragraph. It should be, “messages” instead of “massages.”

    In regards to the communication part: The reason I DON”T use Social Networks as my prime vehicle (I use it for a hell of a lot of business ventures, partnerships, etc) for communication because it is so segmented. I don’t want people on FB contacting me for business.

    I think you will start to see more people move to this model when there is a stronger integration effort.I know there are aggregators out there, but still have their faults. I guess I am of the opinion that email is the one place that doesn’t have certain expectations around it (i.e. if one of my friends emails to my work email, I don’t find it a huge issue.)

    Cheers,

    Taylor

  2. Hi Axel Definitely food for thought. I get all sorts of “missing out” fears when I think of no email. I suspect you are simply ahead of the pack. Well done.

  3. Axel: That whooshing noise you hear are people rushing away from email because there are better ways to communicate. Email works in many situations, but it’s become crowded, noisy, over-used, and abused. (Not a week goes by that I don’t “unsubscribe” from a list that I never subscribed to in the first place.)

    New ways of communicating enable people to form new habits that better fit their lifestyle. Email is just one of many ways to communicate quickly, and as you point out, for some people it’s superseded by other forms.

    Ten years ago, millions of voice mail messages were left every day. Yesterday, my daughter left a phone message for a friend in high school. I learned how rare that is among her peers when she said that leaving a phone message “seems so weird.”

  4. I must concur that “marketing” is on the road to killing email.

    Email isn’t dead but is ill. Email-Marketing is the parasite that infests it. Destroy the parasite, save the patient.

    May email marketing die a speedy death and be replaced by useful things. Long live email.

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