Not only is the is it the first and oldest form of digital
mass marketing, but I doubt even Ray Tomlinson could have imagined how relevant
and critical email was going to be, for both consumers and marketers alike, when
he pressed send on what was the first email in 1971 nearly 50 years ago.
In an age of constant innovation and evolution, email
remains one of the most used, trusted and responsive forms of digital communication.
We’ve come a very long way over the last half century and it’s
clear digital innovation has enabled email to flourish. In turn, we can also
see that email has been fundamental in helping shape consent measures in the digital
landscape, along with enabling many of the current products, services and trends.
Below are just some recent milestones in the history of
1991. 20 years after that first email was
sent, the internet starts to gain momentum and the first smart phones are
designed to enable mobile accessibility for email
1996. Hotmail launches a free email service
– proving to be a hit with consumers
1997. AOL is the world’s largest email
provider with 9m subs. Microsoft purchases Hotmail for $400million and launches
1998. Large banks of data and email
addresses build and lead to unsolicited email, SPAM is introduced into the
Oxford Dictionary while Warner Bros gross $250m from the box office for You’ve
1999 was a big year. Blackberry launches the 850 including email
and HTML browsing. Ecommerce opens the gates for email capture and behavioural
targeting opportunities. Email becomes an expectation rather than a luxury as
accounts pass 400 million.
2003. CAN-SPAM and SPAM acts are
introduced to address consent and give consumers the option to unsubscribe
2004. Gmail launches with 1GB of free
space and total accounts reach 625 million
2008. The Apple iPhone drops making email
even more accessible. Global email accounts hit 1 billion. Obama famously
amasses a 13 million strong email database for his presidential campaign.
2010. Almost half of marketers are using
triggered emails for custom consumer journeys
2012. Email accounts pass 3 billion
2013. Email is the most popular activity
on smart phones (78% use it). More importantly, Australia introduces APP & NPP – Australian
Privacy Principles and National Privacy Principles – to address cunsent, transparency, privacy, and security. Databases were rebuilt to ensure all data and records
willingly re–opted in,
resulting in volume decreases, but cleaner data
pools and increased engagement.
2014 – 2018. Personalisation and
relevance become increasingly important and proves to yield better engagement
and conversions. Email service providers continue to evolve their SPAM
Fast forward to 2020 and there are over 4 billion email
users worldwide with an estimated average of 2 accounts each. This will vary by
demographic and life stage and the need to separate work and personal accounts.
A 2019 Adobe study showed that the line between work and personal email usage
was grey, with 82% of respondents said they checked their work email outside of
work hours at least ever few hours, and 90% checked their personal email during
work hours. The work v personal timelines are even greyer in 2020, if existent
at all due to WFH pandemic conditions.
Email is always on
I too have more than one active email account including an
unfortunately chosen Gmail address I created +15 years ago that I simply can’t
live without. It was created out of necessity in order to apply for my first
credit card, which in turn allowed me to make online purchases and travel. It stayed
with me across different countries, jobs and homes. I now have many
subscriptions, accounts and logins tied to this email address, so I’ll be spelling
it out, confirming and embarrassingly having to explain this unique identifier for
many years to come.
Your email address is your digital key
Similar to house/car keys or more so a passport, an email
address is essential for access. It’s almost always directly or indirectly
required to unlock most online subscription services and incredibly frustrating
if you lose or forget them.
Like keys, an email address is unique, secure and can travel
Consumers want more
Email marketing remains one of the greatest drivers of ROI
however, the focus is largely focused on CRM tactics. Despite the prominence of
other digital channels, multiple studies have shown at least 50% of consumers
prefer brands to connect via email than any other channel. They are willing to
offer rich, explicit information about interests and intent in exchange for
more relevant, valuable content with the freedom to access and engage on their
Yes, we get it. Everyone needs and uses email.
There are significant challenges facing digital advertisers
and marketers in the months and years ahead, let alone the next half century.
Security and privacy will continue to be
Consumers rightfully have more control
Many businesses will need to rethink their data
strategies along with any reliance on 3rd party cookie-based tactics or attribution.
How can you still achieve meaningful direct
contact with existing and customers and new prospects?
Email offers a trusted, unique and tangible identifier not
limited to browsers or reliant on cookies, so there is an opportunity to collaborate
with email and permission-based email marketing specialists to help shape a solution.
If you’d like to discuss how email marketing can help you
drive new business and prospects, contact for more