Email is thirty years old, and it’s arguably bigger than ever, despite other technological advancements in computing and communication. The number of emails sent per day continues to increase, and there are way more accounts than even Facebook has.
This week, ReadWriteWeb interviewed the “father of email,” Ray Tomlinson, who implemented an email system in 1971 on the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). The piece cites some stats from the Radicati Group, saying that 144.8 billion emails are sent per day, and the number projected to hit 192.2 billion in 2016. Another stat from the same source: there are currently 3.4 billion email accounts worldwide, and somewhere around 75% of them are actually individual people.
That works out to be over 2.5 billion accounts of individual users. Facebook recently announced that it had hit the 955 million active user milestone, with just 552 million of them accessing it daily.
In the interview, Tomlinson is quoted as saying, “Email has the time difference — that is, you send it now, you read it later — you don’t have to have someone sitting there and ready to respond like you do with instant messaging to make it work and make it effective. You can use instant messaging that way, but if they’re not there, nothing happens, and you gotta remember that there may be a message coming back to you and go back to the IM client and look for the response.”
He also said he expects email to be around for “a good long time,” adding that “We may find that these other forms of communication may be merged with email.”
We are indeed still seeing the merge of other online communication channels with email. For example, earlier this summer, Facebook started listing Facebook email addresses as the default email address for users, as even the world’s largest social network recognizes email’s importance to the communication landscape. Google+ and Twitter have both recently made moves indicating that they are relying more on email for user engagement.
Email is even making its way to Google searches. Last month, Google introduced a new way for you to search your Gmail account right from the Google search box, perhaps enabling users to access old emails when they’re at their most relevant. It’s only in limited trial mode right now, but this could become an important Google feature sometime soon.
In this article, I talked about why this could make email marketing even better for conversions. The point I was trying to make is that it can make marketing messages available perhaps when they’re more relevant to the audience, when they’re actually searching for something that you’re selling. Basically, it adds some search marketing advantage to your email marketing efforts, though perhaps not in a way that’s as visible as straight paid search. But hey, it’s free.
ExactTarget’s Jeff Rohrs said in a piece about email’s 30th anniversary, “In fact, an overwhelming 77 percent of all consumers surveyed prefer to receive promotional messages from companies via email compared to five percent who prefer text messages and four percent who prefer Facebook. Email is also one of the most utilized apps on every smartphone right up there with the phone, text messaging and the browser itself.”
Emphasis is mine, because those numbers are quite interesting, given how much we see about Facebook marketing these days.
According to a recent study from Experian, email volume rose 10% in the second quarter, compared to the second quarter of last year. This is only a continuation in a trend the firm says it has seen each quarter for the past three years. Open rates were similar to those in Q2 2011. While click rates declined from last year, the pace of that decline slowed. Revenue per email fro multi-channel retailers increased from $0.13 to $0.14. According to that study, the average click rate rose for business products and services in Q2. 42% of brands, the firm says, enjoyed a “statistically significant” increase.