Youth's aversion to e-mail may rebound with age

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Web-based e-mail usage has declined among younger consumers, with a 59% drop among 12-17 year-olds, according to comScore's 2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review, released last week. But this finding is not a death knell for the future of e-mail marketing.

The comScore report shows more modest declines among 18-24 year-olds at 1% and 25-34 year-olds at 18%, representative of what Andrew Lipsman, senior director of industry analysis at comScore, perceives as a trend of young people resuming e-mail usage as they enter the workforce.

“What we're really seeing is that there's a change in the way that kids and teenagers are communicating, and increasingly there's so many different communication channels, whether that's mobile phones, texts, communicating directly through Facebook, that there's a declining need for e-mail at that stage of life,” said Lipsman. “But the working world is very much dependent on e-mail, so as people reach that age, that's not going to change.”

The challenge for many e-mail marketers then is to be able to communicate effectively with young consumers when they do return to using e-mail more often.

“I think the implication for e-mail marketers is that there is a whole new range of options and that e-mail marketing may not reach everybody in the way that it used to so you have to consider the other channels. That said, e-mail marketing tends to be a pretty cost-effective option, so I would say start there and then move on to how to reach people through alternate channels,” said Lipsman.

Successful e-mail marketing toward younger consumers “may just come from a certain level of fluency with these sorts of communications,” he added.
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