Why the future of email remains bright

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If I had gone to live in a cave 5 years ago without any access to the outside world, I would have emerged today believing that email would be dead, thats if I had believed what many forecasted back in 2010. I have lost count of all the so called email killers over the years, but heres a few:

– Bill Gates charging everyone to send email to stop spammers

– Email being killed off by spam (Guess what – spam filters got better for everybody including email marketers!)

– RSS feeds replacing the need to subscribe to email newsletters

– Facebook making email redundant, followed by Facebook giving everybody an email address

– Google Wave would turn all email into a chat interface

On top of these, there are also claims that email marketing is less effective than it used to be – people claiming that the Promotions tab in Gmail means no-one will ever look at a brands communications again. This has been totally disproven and we continue to see the ROI from email rise, and see email at the forefront of nearly all industry sectors, including the big social networks who like filling your inbox every day with updates and alerts to get you back on their site to see their adverts.

Email is well and truly alive and kicking, and here are some reasons why:

It’s a place consumers like and tolerate relationships with businesses

Brands which think they need to be where their customers are on social networks are missing the point. Social networks are for the consumer’s social network. The last thing they want to see is this safe haven infiltrated by big brands pushing their wares. Additionally, many suggest that no-one looks at email, however this doesn’t quite add up when 91% of consumers check their email at least once a day. Compare this to only 72% of Facebook users who check their Facebook account once a MONTH!

Email is the central location for a consumer to manage their online interactions

Email is where consumers want, or tolerate brand interactions – It’s socially acceptable as you have invited them there for order confirmations and the like already.

Everything works off email nowadays

You usually need an email address to register for any website. That might be in the guise of logging in via your Google Account, but that is linked to an email address anyway. Even when you login to a website using your Facebook credentials they expose the email address behind that account to the brand.

Spam is not as big an issue as it used to be

There was a time where there were more emails promoting Rolex watches and fake holiday scams than any other. Not anymore, spam filters have moved on from looking at the content of the email to determine if it is spam with it now being all about the sending reputation of the sender. This is something that cannot be faked and has effectively made the job of spammers near impossible.

Mobile World

The increasing number of smartphone users provides a much higher chance of your emails being opened straight away. Mobile phones aren’t going to get any dumber anytime soon so the proliferation of smartphones with push email is going to increase for some time yet.

Email is the output for all cool new technology

There is lots of new marketing technology coming out all of the time but so much of it relies on email for pushing messages to customers. Beacons inside shops and shopping centres that enable you to know when a customer has walked in will deliver their targeted message via email. With the ‘Internet of things’ – where everyday objects, such as your fridge, become connected to the internet so that when you run out of Milk an email will be the primary method for asking about the re-order.

Are there still fears over the future of email? Well certainly there are challenges. The filtering of commercial email in Gmail and other providers is one that has made a small impact, legal changes always threaten to make it harder to collect data and new technology will always pretend to be an email killer. But we will believe it when we see it.



About James Lucas

Former Senior Marketing Executive at Emailcenter UK Ltd, a leading provider of email marketing software and solutions.