Just when online fundraisers are beginning to get a handle on email fundraising (testing customization, subject lines, etc), a new challenge is raising its head.Large numbers of netizens are abandoning their traditional email and choosing instead to message directly via their social networking sites. It’s like having cell phone users disappearing from your outbound telemarketing lists!Here’s the opening of a discussion of the trend from Nicholas Einstein of Datran Media, writing in DMNews. He in turn is citing new data from Jupiter Research. Says Einstein:“… the rapid adoption of social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace has transformed the way many consumers interact on the Web. Some customer segments, especially younger ones, now spend an increasingly large percentage of their online time on these sites and primarily use them to communicate with their peers. These same consumers, according to a recent report from JupiterResearch, are apparently spending less time in their e-mail inbox and may be paying less attention to the messages they receive there. This shift is causing some to question, perhaps prematurely, the future of e-mail as the dominant social networking tool. … this shift … may not be isolated to younger segments. Nearly one-quarter of e-mail users reported using social networking sites in this way. Fifty-three percent of respondents age 18 to 24 reported doing so, and 42% of those 25 to 34 also reported using social sites instead of e-mail for personal communications. The reason for doing so was consistent across segments: Too much irrelevant messaging in the e-mail inbox.”Ah … relevance! How many times do fundraisers need to hear this word?! Whatever the medium, relevance is what makes the world go round. This is why the adage is right: A poorly crafted message sent to right audience might work. But the perfectly crafted message to the wrong audience doesn’t stand a chance.Einstein concludes by trying to reassure us that email will still be around awhile. But as he puts it: “(the) near-term imperative is to allocate the resources required to drive truly relevant, timely email messaging based on data intelligence.”So keep refining your email technique … but start with “relevance” as your touchstone.Tom

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