Yesterday someone asked me if a message that is sent from a Facebook fan page owner to his/her fans could be considered to be email marketing. Today someone asked me if I thought that social networks would mean the end of email marketing. My answer to the first question was yes and my answer to the second question was no. Let me explain.
I consider any message that is sent to a digital mailbox to be a form of email marketing, or to use a better term: digital direct marketing. A digital mailbox can take many different forms: it could be an email inbox, it could be your Facebook inbox, your RSS reader, your mobile inbox or even your Twitter inbox.
Which form it takes, doesn't really matter: basic email marketing best practices apply to all of them: you need to have permission and you need to provide value, otherwise you won't be successful.
I think it's very likely that the term "email marketing" will cease to exist in the near future. Not because we won't be doing email marketing anymore, but because we won't only be targeting email inboxes anymore.
I see a future where technology will allow us to prepare a message that can be delivered to all these digital mailboxes with just a push of a button. One person will receive it as an email, another will get a direct message on Twitter, a third one will see it in his/her RSS reader, a fourth one will read it on his/her Blackberry, a fifth will get a text message and someone else will read it on Facebook.
So what should we start calling this type of marketing? Digital Direct Marketing? Digital Dialogue Marketing? Inbox Marketing? What do you think?