Female business person reading email on computer screen at work on internet
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In 2021 email will be 50 years old. Traditionally, it is believed that Ray Tomlinson, a computer engineer working for Bolt Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, Massachusetts, developed a system for sending messages between computers that used the @ symbol to identify addresses.  He sent the first such message in October of 1971, and the business world has never looked back. Email had been invented and it doesn’t look like its going to fade away anytime soon.

In fact, email has become such a part of the enterprise landscape that it impacts ever corner of the organization, making communication between departments, individuals and customers easy and accessible making it a key element in developing top employee and customer experiences and engagement in the enterprise.

Email Use Is Still Growing

In fact, citing research from the Radicati Email Statistics report, Mahima Sharma, senior marketing associate at Chandigarh, India-based Kays Harbor Technologies Pvt. Ltd points out that there will be more than 3.8 billion email users by the end of 2018 and is expected to reach the 4.2 billion mark by the end of 2022. “Quick, simple and cheap — this is primarily the reason why email is universally accepted as the best form of communication. Additionally, it has simplified marketing efforts with one-to-one communication and personalization, “she said.

Kristin Naragon, director of product marketing at Adobe Campaign agrees. Even after all this time, she said, consumers and workers still rely heavily on email. According to the survey Adobe conducted last year, enterprise workers and consumers spend an average of 5.4 hours each weekday checking email. 

“They’re on email while watching TV, in bed, on vacation, during meals with family and friends — 43 percent even report checking email in the bathroom. It’s also their preferred way of communicating with brands and colleagues. Email has become so ingrained in our daily lives because it’s reliable, quick, continuously evolving to meet our preferences, and can be hyper-personalized. It truly is a powerful, purpose-built channel,” she said.

Related Article: Forget Slack vs. Email: Think Slack Plus Email

Email Simplifies Work

Why does it persist, though, in enterprises that are also heavily invested in social networks?  Roman Rabinovich of New York City-based Eventige points out that email is persistent because it is easy to organize, easy to search, and meets many of the criteria that are generally seen as key to top employee and customer experiences. “Using cloud-based technology like Google Drive and DropBox, workers can attach a file of larger sizes. Email can be encrypted for enhanced privacy and security which is becoming more important today than ever before. Besides the above, email is universal and it would take a critical mass movement to go in another direction,” he said.

He also points out that email platforms are becoming better at processing data and automating processes that allow users to receive information that is relevant, useful, valuable, entertaining, and improves engagement.

There are additional email attributes that enhance engagement, according to Rachel Collins, GM and SVP of Austin, Texas-based Aurea Campaign Manager. Aurea, you may remember, is the company that bought Jive Software. There are two notable aspects of current email evolution, she said, that will help employees:

Mobility: Workers and consumers are increasingly checking their email on a mobile device as opposed to a laptop or notebook. Moving forward, email solutions will need to fully support all mobile devices and provide the same level of customer experience regardless of which device is being used. In addition, geolocation services on those devices will provide another level of personalization that enhances the customer experience.

Video and images: Images are eye-catching and can show a brand's personality in a fun and lighthearted way. Video content is also better at creating an emotional impact than static images or copy. By embedding video content into email, it can increase open rates by 40 percent.

Related Article: 7 Tips To Increase Email Marketing Engagement

Email Is Increasingly Interactive

Interactivity is also becoming a major addition to the email-focused worker’ arsenal. In the last few months, Gmail announced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in beta, enabling marketers to create more interactive content for subscribers right within their email inbox. Subscribers can now fill out forms and shop on a brand’s site after receiving an email without having to open a new tab.

“We’ve seen a huge appetite for these functionalities and anticipate more platforms and companies will follow this trend. We can expect to see email become less static and more interactive within a user’s inbox, whether it’s through enabling online shopping or browsing a company’s website,” EJ McGowan, vice president, general manager at the Los Angeles-based Campaigner, said.

Email Marketing And Engagement

However, email is not just important in developing internal employee engagement. It is also a key element in customer engagement, particularly as a marketing tool. Email marketing plays a major role in the customer journey and will continue to do so well into the future. A big part of this is due to email marketers becoming better informed on how to more effectively get consumers to engage with email. Tactics such as segmentation and psychological sales triggers are used more throughout the industry. Email Service Providers (ESPs) are becoming more developed to better segment and automate email marketing. This is helping businesses to deliver more targeted emails at times when people want to read them.

Kyle Mucha, co-founder of London, UK-based marketpreneurs,  points to two major trends that are happening within the email marketing space. The first being multichannel marketing. Now, many ESPs can deliver your marketing message not just through email but across multiple channels including text and digital ads. The second trend is the use of AI to deliver hyper-targeted marketing messages to drastically improve email engagement. “Both of these will result in increased engagement for email marketing making it even more necessary for businesses to commit resources to the most effective marketing channel,” he said.

Finally, it is worth remembering that email is not a platform, but a protocol and as such belongs to no single vendor nor the fortunes of any single company, according to the head of email at New York City based Metric Digital, Scott Ginsberg. He points out that the people and brands that understand the protocol are the most valuable. This is why something like email will always exist, Twitter will not. “When you have something that becomes a protocol, versus a platform, the protocol almost always wins out. Because you have control. It’s completely transparent. Anybody can use it, it’s free,” he said. “Facebook could change their mind any day, and everyone would be screwed.

"The farther you are away you get from the protocol, the potential opportunity to obfuscate the data becomes greater. Email is the past, the present, and the future.  And like the great LeBron James, you cannot stop it, you can only hope to contain it."

Brandon Wright Marketing Manager ThoughtLab added that email related business initiatives like email marketing, as a result, are more secure than those done through other channels like social media as it is one channel that isn’t controlled by a single corporation. “Facebook can increase your ad spend by decreasing your organic reach. Google can push you further down the results page and force you into buying Pay Per Click ads. Email, on the other hand, is completely decentralized and therefore is the only digital marketing channel that won’t be upended by an algorithm update,” he said.

To B2B marketers, he added, the message is clear — the inbox is a place that business happens. Craft your email marketing message around solving pain points your prospects face while working and watch your pipeline fill up.