With tools like Instant Messenger, text messaging, MySpace and Facebook, e-mail marketers face increasing challenges in trying to reach younger audiences.

It seems hard to believe, but younger web users such as Gen Y'ers view e-mail as a pass?© communications tool. Jeremiah Owyang on his web strategy blog shared the following anecdote:

"A few weeks ago, I had a discussion with my kid sister, in a humorous way she told me that she 'Only uses email to communicate with old people like me.' And I’m not even in my mid 30s."

In fact, many younger people interact more with MySpace, Facebook and their cell phones than e-mail. I asked an intern at a client of mine for his reaction to this, and he responded that he either uses IM, Facebook or text messaging to talk to friends. He only uses e-mail when at work.

With these trends in mind, it's not surprising that companies are either experimenting with or starting alternative "online" marketing programs. The New York Times recently profiled outdoor goods retailer Moosejaw Mountaineering, which started a mobile marketing program this year.

With text messaging's popularity among many younger folks (under 30 years old seems to be the profile of the text messager), it's a logical choice to allow those customers to interact with companies via their cell phones. In Moosejaw's case, they have a "texting" link on their homepage that allows text message users to interact with the company, even offering to send order tracking numbers, account information and rewards information to customers via text message.

While text messaging hasn't reached the critical mass that e-mail marketing has (Moosejaw sends text messages to just over 1,000 customers according to the Times article), the potential is there. 115 million Americans have used cell phones to send text messages, and this number is only more likely to grow.

Moosejaw gets it -- they have a well-established MySpace page as well. They seem to have struck the balance between being promotional and "hip."

While we're probably not talking about tens of thousands of customers using these technologies yet, it will become important that companies consider new ways to market to their customers. It will be interesting to see how the iPhone and other advanced mobile devices change trends in marketing as communication evolves.