What is the future of email is a question people sometimes ask these days.
Technology is a wonderful abler. And a leveler too. While on the one hand it brings us amazing tools and gadgets, on the other it makes a lot of things obsolete.
Once considered the most important tool of all sorts of communication, snail-mail is virtually dead today.
The average-Jane type ticketing companies lost to the big daddies of internet and online bookings.
Typewriters exist only as relics of the past.
Fountain pens too are history – well, almost.
So naturally, similar questions are occasionally raised with regards the good old email. Has the email run its course? Is it fast dying, eaten away by WhatApp or FB Messenger?
Slack, founded in 2013 and valued at $2.8 billion in 2015, was once believed to be a tool that will kill email. However, Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield (who also co-founded Flickr) likened email to a cockroach (one of the hardiest and most tenacious living organisms), saying email is not dying anytime soon, at least not for the next 30-40 years.
Let’s look at some of the figures.
(Source: The Radicati report)
The estimate not only suggests the number of email accounts will increase but also shows the number of average accounts per user is slowly rising. In other words, the growth of the number of email accounts is larger than the growth of the number of users.
So Butterfield is vindicated: email is growing, not dying.
From the time V A Shiva Ayyadurai invented email in 1978 under encouragement from the particle physicist Les Michelson, email has come a long, long way. In fact, it’s almost unfailingly omnipresent.
The ensuing period of nearly five decades has brought us a huge number of options for communications. While email has grown from strength to strength, there have been more than one instances where it appeared that emails were dying.
The mobile might have killed email. FB Messenger might have killed email. Whatsapp might have killed email.
None did. (In fact, the mobile grew email-friendly. Like a fellow-contestant turning into an ally.)
The relative long-life of email as an idea is now established. Jordie van Rijn took this study further: he put together 10 Experts and recorded what they thought of the future of Email Marketing and Marketing Automation and came up with some really amazing insights for 2017.
Let’s now look at email as a tool for marketers. Here are 4 top benefits that email brings to – er – the table.
1. Emails are smart
Emails have evolved. They have grown smart.
Let’s say Linda buys a jacket from an online retailer. Her purchase required her to key in some information about herself. Her zip-code, for instance. That, coupled with a few bits of information, alerts the smart email.
It profiles Linda, without being offensive. From the zip-code it can figure out the location and – you guessed it – the weather of the place where Linda lives. With this, the email will have the smartness to remind Linda that summer is fast approaching;would she like to buy some soft tees? A pair of loafers, perhaps? How about some cool shades? And why not her favorite deo?
Look at it the point of view of Linda: the marketer already has her basic information. She wouldn’t mind if the marketer puts it to use that will benefit either of them. Who knows, she might be pleased on being reminded of purchasing some cool shades.
Emails can smartly take up the job of periodically – and automatically – reminding Linda what all stuff might interest her.
2. Emails offer a much more focused environment to talk and communicate.
Consider the following screenshot of a typical Facebook account.
While FB marketing may have its own advantages, look at the huge amount of things that crowd the screen.
I need to ‘like’ the engagement of a friend. Needs attention and time.
There’s some news on the right that might interest me. Needs attention and time.
A few pages I’m member of seem to be carrying on some interesting activity. Needs attention and time.
One of the games I regularly play is sitting on the right corner of the screen. Needs attention and time.
In short, my attention is divided between so many things. Ditto for twitter. And other social tools.
With an email, that doesn’t happen. At all.
As a matter of fact, when the recipient opens an email, she subtly gives her consent to read what the sender is trying to tell her. And also her undivided attention. There’s nothing within the email to divert her attention or lead her away. Focus.
In this over-communicated world, undivided attention is a rare and expensive. This where email stands tall.
3. Emails are marketer-friendly .
Today, the email marketer isn’t writing plain-text emails. Plain text is outdated.
Today, the marketer needs all the tools, all the media she can lay her hands on to grab the prospect’s attention. Images, videos, memes, tweets, feeds,…. the marketer will try to optimize the prospect’s engagement using one or more of the tools.
And this is where the email rules. An email can take everything in its – er -stride.
Email can integrate images very well. The marketer can insert images of that beautiful jacket in the email. The image can be clickable: the receiver clicks, keys in the credit card details (if not already stored) and the jacket is sold.
Emails can carry links to latest blog-posts: the reader can click the link, ‘like’ or ‘share’ it, and moves further down the sales funnel.
Emails carry reminders or updates: what the favorite celebrity tweeted about, how’s the Farmville neighbor doing, when’s the next movie being released, where to get the limited-edition wrist watch before it disappears… all hyperlinked.
Dig a little deeper and the real importance comes up. The prospect is busy. If the marketer requires the prospect to do a lot of work before the sales, the prospect will either not buy (because it takes more time than the prospect wants to invest() or will get tempted away by any of the powerful alternative tools.
The email helps the marketer save the prospect’s time of searching, typing, deciding,
Email with images or links makes the prospect’s work extremely easy: one click and the sales is done. That’s the power an email carries.
4. Emails are very low-budget and also extremely cost-effective.
This point will not need any further details.
“… email marketing is the king of the marketing kingdom with a 3800% ROI and $38 for every $1 spent.”
Research has proved time and again how dollar-to-dollar, email is easily superior to anything similar.
Anything that works well and is cost-effective cannot die suddenly, right?
5. New technologies built around email are constantly emerging
One sure way of telling whether a product is going to die or flourish is the number of technologies that are being designed around it.
Nobody spends time and resources building things around a dying product. For instance, typewriter is dead, so you don’t see any innovation around a typewriter, its keyboard or its ribbon. That’s because the product is of no value so why would people invest into it?
On the other hand, companies excitedly build numerous technologies and services around a product they think is going to be around for a long time. Look around, you’ll see a number of technologies have been built around the good old email.
Tools like Hiver are making the sharing and scheduling of emails easier and faster. On the side of measurement metrics, you have tools like SalesHandy that help you track the open rates and timings of the emails you sent or help mail merge campaigns.
Well, that’s why everyone’s betting heavily in favor of email.
Long live email marketing!