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When email started to gain widespread adoption 15 years ago, the idea of delivering account statements or status updates via email seemed absurd to the majority of consumers. Was it secure? Was it safe? People simply didn’t know, nor trust, that email was a permanent and valid form of communication for official matters. Instead, they needed hard copies of those statements, delivered to their mailbox, to recognize formal documentation.
In the mid-1990s, email was not yet recognized as an appropriate channel for “official,” or formal, communication. Direct mail was. Sure, some people wrote back and forth about business using email, but it was primarily a tool for interpersonal, or informal, communication.
I believe this distinction allows direct marketers to put the current communication landscape into proper context. Consider:
Informal communication drives widespread adoption of new tools. The widespread adoption of email was fueled by the fact that it made written interpersonal communication easier. As an email tutorial from 1995 put it, “Email is cheaper and faster than a letter, less intrusive than a phone call, less hassle than a FAX.” The same faster, cheaper, less-hassle rationale was true of the telephone, just as it is true in the current adoption of text messaging and social networks. Alternatively, communication tools launched primarily for formal communication (e.g., fax and RSS) don’t get widely adopted by consumers.
Originally From “The Impact Of Formal Vs. Informal Communication On Marketing”| Published September 16, 2009