Limited Time Offer: Save 40% on PRO with code GOPRO2018

Real-World Education for Modern Marketers

Join Over 600,000 Marketing Professionals

Start here!

Know-How Exchange

Topic: E-Marketing

Search more Know-How Exchange Q&A from Marketing Experts

This question has been answered, and points have been awarded.

Where In Tech Adoption Cycle Is Email Marketing?

Posted by Anonymous on 1000 Points

In his book, Crossing the Chasm, author Geoffrey Moore delineates a number of stages through which a high tech company goes. We are trying to figure out what stage, using his model, the email marketing industry is in right now. Knowing where in the technology adoption life cycle our market is will affect our strategy in the future so it is important for us to figure this out.

Mike Lee does a good job of summarizing Crossing the Chasm. Of the stages listed here, where would you say the email marketing industry is now? What are your reasons for thinking this?

Thank you very much for taking time to answer my question.

  • Posted by SteveByrneMarketing on Accepted
    Certainly email adoption is further along than social media optimization (SMO) adoption. It seems to be a difficult assignment to quantify the "email cycle" as it is a component of emarketing.

    I tend to think of emarketing as an integrated solution with many components including email. And each component continues to evolve which provides new integrated approaches. 2009 email programs offer many options for the marketer that did not exist a few years ago. For example, email programs in the pre-SMO days is different than the email programs available in the current SMO environment.

    I have to run, I'll try to come back to this later.

  • Posted by steven.alker on Accepted
    Dear Neil

    I wonder if you could give a bit more information about your particular application Market, product or service, location, sales channel, industry sector etc.

    I ask because in my view, the adoption of email differs in various different market sectors at least it varies according to a plethora of factors according to Moore.

    It would be helpful to narrow things down a bit especially given that the book is rather dense and rather long (If memory serves me correctly the review was about 21 pages in its own right!)

    Ill try to give a fuller answer as weve done a similar exercise on CRM and Sales Forecasting systems where many of the considerations for the adoption of a particular format hinge on their ability to operate on the web and to utilise email as it is seen to be needed by a given company and a given vertical market.

    best wishes and I look forward to hearing from you with a bit of detail.

    Steve Alker
  • Posted on Accepted
    I would rank it around the end of "Late Majority" and the beginning of "Laggards".

    My reasoning is that many people, particularly those under 25, have 'moved on' from email. Their communication channels are much more immediate. Email is how they communicate with 'old people'.

    Regarding us oldsters, our tolerance for email newsletters has diminished greatly. Over the past couple of years I have unsubscribed from many, many newsletters - just too many to deal with. At the same time I have not signed up to many at all, perhaps two.

    I've noticed I'm starting to get barraged with emails from businesses trying to sell me stuff. Fortunately, I have them compartmentalized in my personal email account. Unfortunately, the volume is causing me to spend more time each day deleting unwanted stuff! :)

    I look at email as one tool in the overall marketing campaign. For a short time, say 2002 - 2005, it was a 'killer app' tool to generate business. Since then, though, it's effectiveness has been going on a downward slope.
  • Posted on Author

    We have a Software as a Service (SaaS) called the StreamSend Email Marketing. I welcome you to look our Web site for more information on the company and the service.

    The sectors that we tend to focus on are SMBs and marketing consultants and Web designers. However, we have quite a variety of clients: large companies, non-profits, and government.


  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    My view is that it's in "late majority" for many of the same reasons cited by Gary/NuCoPro. I also agree with SteveByrneMarketing that email is a component of a larger marketing approach, so you can't just treat it in a vacuum, even if that's your primary/only business.

    The segment is getting crowded and the technology seems to be pretty well understood. The key now will be to integrate email into a total marketing package that includes some traditional media, basic web stuff (i.e., Web 1.0) and a smattering of Web 2.0. The suppliers who do the best job of integration will probably survive for awhile, while the others will likely be heading downhill before long.

    Of course, there could be a market catering to laggards, but that is probably a short-term strategy ... and probably not very high margin as there will be a lot of companies with the same/very similar technology available cheap.

    This could be analogous to advertising agencies that specialized in radio advertising when television came along. Sure, radio survived, but agencies that were not current/fluent in television advertising had a tough time surviving. Same thing when internet advertising first come on the scene. Agencies that didn't jump on that found themselves very dated and struggling to survive. Etc.

    Hope this helps.
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    I'd say the Laggards phase. Consumers are deluged with spam, which is a sign that too many people are sending out too many emails with low quality of personalized content. Businesses have a large variety of options that are well-tested, easy-to-use, and affordably priced. The only reason businesses may not be using email marketing isn't because of the technology or education, it's because of their (lack of a) marketing strategy.
  • Posted by Mikee on Accepted
    I too would put email in the late majoirty to laggard phase. It is so easy to do and inexpensive compared to many other forms of marketing that most people who want to do it have. It is also becoming less effective as it is abused, making it more difficult for people to get their message to people through email.

    I do not believe it is going away due to its low cost, but it will become less effective.

    As far as E-Advertising goes people are spending more trying to get their message out there through as many electronic avenues as possible.

  • Posted by Inbox_Interactive on Accepted
    "I do not believe it is going away due to its low cost, but it will become less effective."

    I think it all depends on what you're trying to do with email. We have not recommended email as an acquisitions tool for over eight years now. However, for a conversion tool, email is still very hard to beat.

    And email is by no means "easy" if you want to do it right, any more than direct-mail or radio are "easy."

    Sure, it's easy to set up an email and send it out, but that's not where you should be focusing your attention. There are a number of ways to get your message out, and many of them are more or less the same. It's the message that needs your real time and attention.

    You still have to focus on best practices and your copy and design and then what to do with your readers once they open and's an ongoing process.

    There's a reason that certain marketers gladly pay us $750 just to write copy for one email. For some small businesses, that's an entire year's email marketing budget, but for others it's only a small piece of one project.

    And that's because email ain't "easy."

    In many respects, I hope that 90% of marketers do give up on email. It will make my job that much less complicated.
  • Posted on Accepted
    Late majority to Laggard. Why? Simply put because currently email marketing fits into the descriptions postulated by Moore.

    I agree with everything Inbox says, no need to repeat it.

    I do know that the beauty and benefit of email marketing is that when executed correctly and professionally it is one of the best mediums for building long-term relationships (not acquire them).

    Because of this, there is a tremendous amount of growth left for the medium. Think of it as Email Marketing 2.0, and it is happening now.

    Those companies that are making the commitment to understand what this means and implement these practices will actually become more effective, not less.

    In addition we are seeing attrition of the "spray & pray" practitioners, a very positive sign. I don't mean spammers, I mean legitimate companies that throw together a program with no strategy and goals and expect to get customers when all they really get is a lot of spam complaints, unsubscribes and low clickthrough.
  • Posted on Accepted
    Great question. However, the answer is two fold, I believe.

    First, "batch and blast" which is the majority of email marketing today, is definitely in the late majority or even laggard phase for most marketers and consumers in the US/Canada. That is because marketers have not optimized the channel and consumers are sick of both junk from marketers (even if they opted in, it's still junk if I don't find it interesting!) and spam.

    On the other hand, advanced email marketing - where marketers use segmentation, data integration and behavioral triggers to create powerful subscriber experiences.... this is in an early growth stage. Not enough marketers use it or tap the advantage. However, they will need to. And I believe that it will become the focus of smart email marketers everywhere - simply because it's the only way that email marketing works any longer.

    - Stephanie Miller
    Return Path
  • Posted on Member

    Very astute observation about consumer targeting with email. There are some extremely sophisticated tools available through the higher end email services that allow marketers to slice 'n dice the audience. Unfortunately, almost no one uses them effectively, and most, not at all.

    For example, I use a Loyalty Card for every purchase I make at our supermarket and have done so for years. By now they have enough information on me to create a very accurate profile of what I'm interested in. However, do they use this to send me targeted emails - NO! And it upsets me, as I yell at the screen, "Send me something that appeals to me!" This is an $6B operation that, in other areas, is a very sophisticated user of IT.
  • Posted by SteveByrneMarketing on Accepted
    As the posters above have pointed out, email is still a preferred way to send information to customers. The nature of web-based information may change but email seems here to stay. Here's a DMNews report on mixing email with Facebook.

    "The e-mail also invites people to sign up for a Facebook page where they can take surveys about how they like the restaurant. The Facebook page has different content than the e-mail and also encourages people to sign up to receive the e-mails. Both ends work to acquire and retain customers ..."

  • Posted on Accepted

    Most marketers are moving on from outbound marketing towards inbound marketing, leveraging SEO, blogging, and social media more.
  • Posted by Paul Kemper on Accepted
    On the contrary: starting tornado :-) Why?

    Firtly, let's not make the mistake assuming every marketeer is refocusing into social media. We - the members of this forum - probably are, but we tend to be very myopic. Using social media as we do, inevitably create a false sense that such technology is used by everyone.

    So, let's not look at what social-media-enabled marketers want to do, but let's look at the offers out there in the market. The evolutionary state of these offers tells us at least what customers are currently asking for (assuming the vendors of such solutions create products that are 'just good enough').

    1. Email platforms have become horizontal solutions (if there ever were specifically vertical ones), which tells me they have move on from the bowling alley.
    2. The market is not in a thinking mode where they say 'no-brainer, you cannot run a business without it'. Rather it looks like the market is moving to an 'I know someone that uses it effectively, so I think I will need to look at it too'.
    3. For a long time many articles have been published on the features of email marketing. Only in the last few years do I see articles for the market at large that talk about the do's and don'ts.
    4. We are now at a stage where CRM and CMS systems have adopted integration with email platforms, although more can still be done.
    5. There are still no best practices when it comes to the feature lists of such solutions, although many start to converge to that point now. This again tells me they are leaving the bowling alley.
    6. Price is not currently the decision factor. If it were, I would have classified the technology as 'late/laggard'.
    7. Other than the SMTP/HTML standardw, there are no specific standards for email platforms. This tells me that the bowling alley is still not entirely finished.
  • Posted by Clive Fernandes on Accepted
    Dear Neil,

    This is truly a very informative thread that has sprung up following your question. There is not much I can add in terms of further information, but I would like to chip in with my opinion.

    I think Stephanie has nailed the answer right on the head. Email marketing has advanced to such a degree that now we have two separate entities so to speak.

    I would put advanced email marketing in the Early Adopters stage. Reason being I feel with the advancement in spam reduction technology, highly targeted email can soon once again become a useful marketing tool and is on its way to being accepted by a more mainstream market.

    Hope this helps.

    Clive Fernandes
    Clive Fernandes Consulting
  • Posted by telemoxie on Accepted
    It seems to me that it will be a good exercise to take many of these specific applications of e-mail marketing, and map them to phases of the product introduction lifecycle.

    Clearly there are aspects of e-mail marketing which are in decline phase, clearly there are aspects of e-mail marketing which are in a growth phase.
  • Posted on Accepted
    Neil and I have been pondering this question for sometime. This is an incredible thread. Thanks for the input everyone.

    I wanted to chime in regarding the Technology Adoption Curve. One key factor is to consider only "discontinuous innovation", which I believe is innovation that radically changes the behavior of a group of users. Which an example for email marketing would be moving away from snail mail newsletters to electronic ones, or sending out email versus direct snail mail to achieve the same purpose. Continuous innovation would be something that gets incrementally better, but it does not have it's own curve associated with it. For example adding analytics to email marketing software. Is that how others understands it as well?

    When I read about this distinction between innovation types, it made analyzing the email marketing market a bit more clear. What we're trying to find out is where on the Technology Adoption Curve is the email marketing market. So another way to ask would be what percentage of the actual market has adopted this discontinuous innovation of transitioning to using email marketing versus other alternatives.

    My gut tells me that the innovators, early adopters have already been on board for years. These are the groups that experimented and legitimized using email communication versus the standard "snail mail" form. Those two groups make up 2.5% and 14.5% of the market respectively equaling 17%.

    Next up based on the theory we'd have the early majority (34%) and late majority (34%).

    One statistic I've heard is that 47% of businesses have not yet adopted email marketing. If this statistic is accurate, which is a big IF, then it would mean we are on the right hand side of the curve in the Late Majority portion.

    Does this additional information change anyone's previous statements? Any further thoughts to add?


    Dan Forootan
  • Posted on Member
    47% of WHAT businesses??? Fortune 2000 corporations? Certainly not ALL businesses, as with all the millions of 'Mom & Pop' businesses, I'd be willing to bet that percentage is significantly higher than 47.

    Most of the Innovators and a majority of the Early Adopters are well beyond email at this point. They may still be using it, but as a component of an overall electronic communications strategy.
  • Posted on Member
    NuCoPro, I believe the figure was 47% of small businesses, which I'm sure includes the mom & pop businesses as you mentioned. I've been trying to find the source of that number and have been unsuccessful.

    Regardless though, if the number is remotely accurate, then it would mean that the Late Majority is left (where on the late Majority curve though would be up for debate).

    Stephanie, your analysis is interesting btw. I wonder if more sophisticated email marketing (with segmentation, etc) is enough of a discontinuous innovation (with significant enough of behavioral changes) to signify a brand new Technology Adoption Curve. Will it have it's own curve?

  • Posted on Member
    The major problem is that email is now, believe it or not, a 'dated' technology. I was being honest in my original post when I said those under 25 use email as a way to communicate with the 'old people' who don't 'get' social networking interactions.

    However, sophisticated use of customer information is an effective tactic for emails. Unfortunately, almost no one actually does that. I know I would be much more inclined to read through marketing emails, IF I knew that the content was tailored to me.

    I have NO statistics on this, but would be willing to bet such a professionally managed campaign would have a dramatic, positive impact on sales.
  • Posted on Author
    I would thank everyone who responded. This was a very productive conversation.

Post a Comment

Most Popular

MarketingProfs uses single
sign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. That's it, and nothing more! Rest assured that MarketingProfs: Your data is secure with MarketingProfs SocialSafe!