In the days of AOL, our in-boxes were cherished spaces. When we heard the computerized voice proclaim, “You’ve got mail!” our hearts leapt. “Someone cares enough to have written me an email!” we thought. And back then, when it took a good five ear-piercing minutes to boot up your 28.8K modem and dial into AOL, an email was almost as good as a handwritten letter, and faster.
Brands caught on, however, and soon our in-boxes became a seething mess of spam. Any brand communication was seen as intrusive and as annoying as a telemarketer’s call during dinner. Email marketing companies flourished at first, aiding and abetting these brand messages, but around 2007 it seemed (to me at least) as though email marketers were going the way of Myspace background designers and door-to-door salesmen. With the emergence of social media, why spend time dodging spam filters when you could talk directly to your audience on Facebook or Twitter?