Email is totally overhyped, and yet…

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August 6, 2012 by Dave Reed



I spent about two hours yesterday putting together a Mailchimp email for a local small business. I realize this is a blog about technology for nonprofits, but this particular business is currently run as a community service and barely gets by each month. It is also a hub of local community organizing.

A few of the thoughts running through my head yesterday:

  • Jesus. Mass email apps blow.
  • I think mobile will actually be the ultimate savior of email, because it is forcing standards on an industry that has been adverse to them.
  • I love Gmail, but it is really an obstacle to these standards. I spent a decent chunk of time working with Mailchimp’s newer “mobile-friendly” templates only to have them not display correctly on my Android device. This is really frustrating as a designer and as just the guy doing grunt-work data entry.
  • All that work for 15% click-throughs???

Email marketing, according to the industry that sells this service, is absolutely critical to your business success or your fundraising. I don’t buy it. I think there are far too many communications options available to people today and email is so bloated and ful of junk that most folks, including myself, ignore 99% of it. As more people return o thinking and interacting in a locally-focused lifestyle, word-of-mouth and good old fashioned print advertising is much more effective.

So, keep your email list, but don’t sweat over it. Use a service like Mailchimp and use their pre-designed templates. These will do you fine until you get to a point where your communication needs out-pace these designs. By that time, you’ll likely be in the black to a degree that will make the expense of a custom-designed email template sensible.

Remember, smaller and easier is better.


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