They’ve lost their value because too many people use email to shout marketing messages at consumers in the worst possible way, but if a 20% open rate puts 20K or even 2K in the bank, they’ll keep doing it.
There’s a different way, though, and that’s to use it as a communication medium. It still works pretty well if you’re doing that. My “newsletter” gets over 60% open rate.
I mean, what’s the open rate when a friend emails you? 100% right? It’s not that email doesn’t work, it’s that people aren’t dumb and we learn what to expect from who and respond accordingly.
Also, some of the crappy open rates comes down to laziness on the sender’s part, or not knowing how to segment. If a tea store has mint tea on sale and they send it to their whole list, only the mint tea drinkers are going to open that. But if they segment, the open rate shoots up.
Whether or not social is more effective depends on what metric they’re measuring. If all their looking for is views or follows, then perhaps. But if conversion is the goal, social usually converts really poorly.
Sorry this was so long — it’s what I do all day (every day). You make some great points for people to consider before they hit send. :)