"Yeah, we don't really use email."
This comment from the founder of a company took me by surprise.
Part of me was doing a high-five with myself, well-known as I am for hating email and predicting its demise. I receive hundreds of them a day and have for the past 18 years.
The other part of me--the one that is a realist--still processes email, and I know it is still limping along as a communication method for many of us.
There's not yet a great alternative to communicating with a total stranger, unless you count a social-media chat. I tend to "count" that and rely on it more and more. In fact, I have recently solved the problem of public relations personnel contacting me about their products and services by email. I now run a popular Facebook Group for PR folks to share ideas, and it's an awesome way to communicate and chat in real-time.
When I thought about the founder's "no email" comment, however, I stopped short at total agreement.
"Tell me more," I said with a grin.
Turns out this company (which I am choosing not to name) doesn't really need to communicate outside of their firm because they're in stealth mode. Of course, they all still have email addresses, but in the normal course of the day, they use Slack, text messaging, and social almost exclusively. There is an understanding among those outside the company that the best way to contact anyone who works there is by phone or text.
Curiously, it's not because they hate email like I do.
The founder was pretty clear: They just don't have the time. They are busy being productive, putting the final touches on a new product, working closely as a team. To email a co-worker would be like chiseling on a stone tablet, he said.
Another internal high-five for me.
An interesting aside here is that the spam marketing field is quite defensive about email. They usually fill up my Twitter feed with angry tweets after I mention email's inefficiencies.
Startups that are actually trying to make a product and develop a service know email is not nearly fast enough when there's another company doing roughly the same thing. For people like me, email is not efficient because I usually need an answer much faster. The linear nature of emailing (write, send, wait, respond) was wonderful...in 1995. It has some uses still, but they are frequently not that valid.
We're all looking for an advantage in the marketplace. Spam isn't working. Ask anyone under 25 if they frequently use email, and you will get a blank stare. (For the record, the founder who told me they don't use email is 39.)
Stats about open rates on email campaigns--usually completed by companies who make email marketing products--are totally missing the obvious trend: Email is dying or dead already. It's not nearly as viable as it once was. We've moved on.
So why do we keep trying? My PR group on Facebook is much more interesting, engaging, and useful to me. I still process email, but I despise the chore of it all. You may prefer email, but the competition? They are busy being productive.