In 1971, the first email was sent. But this is the next millennium. Shouldn’t this 45+ year old technology be tossed on the junk heap of old technologies we no longer use like dial up modems, floppy disks and pagers? I have heard people proclaim that email is dead. But is email really dead or it linger on?
This is the first in a series of articles about email and whether it still has a place in your productive work day.
The Email Killers
If email is in on it’s death bed, what would replace it? Here are a few of the technologies that have been touted as “email killers.”
- Texting – using mobile devices to send text
- Social Media – communicating via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others
- Slack – instant messaging and collaboration for teams
So are any of these “email killers” making a dent in email usage? Let’s find out.
How Many People Still Use Email?
For my time management coaching clients, being buried in email is one of the first things they come to me for help with. So, in my experience, email is nowhere near death.
But maybe my experience is atypical or I just have a bunch of clients who hang on to email as a tool. So lets look for some real numbers outside of my own experience to see if my experience is an anomaly or if email still has some life in it.
Here are some recent surveys and forecasts I came across that help paint an independent picture of email use.
- Radicati Group, a technology research firm, forecasts in their 2016 study of email trends that email users would grow from 2.6 billion in 2014 to 3 billion in 2020.
- Mail Chimp, one of the leading email marketing management systems in the world, reports an average open rate on marketing emails of 21.33% in the retail sector as of June 2,2016 (some other sectors are much higher)
So instead of being on life support – it looks like email is still growing! How can this be?
Some Old Technologies Still Shine
I shave with a Gillette Aristocrat double edged safety razor from 1948. This 68 year old razor gives me smoother, closer shaves then the current multiple blade razor cartridge systems and costs me about 18 cents a blade – about 6% of the cost of Gillette’s current Mach 3 razor cartridge. So some old technology still kicks ass!
Email is like that old vintage razor. It just works and is a fraction of the cost of some newer technologies. And still “cutting edge.” (bad pun intended)
Here are some reasons why email still seems to grow.
- Reaches Outside Organization and App
- Works Well on Mobile
- Searchable and Archivable
- Better Spam Handling
Email Reaches Outside Your Organization
Email is everywhere.
Nearly everyone has an email address and certainly anyone in a professional setting will have an email. So this means that you can email anyone right from your email inbox no matter what email app you or your recipient uses. If you want to send someone a message on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Slack, the message recipient has to be part of that service or you would need to log into multiple services to reach the people you want to reach.
Email Works Well On Mobile
Lets face it, if a tool doesn’t work on mobile in 2016, most people don’t want it. I dumped several desktop tools I really liked because I couldn’t access the data on my smart phone. According to Litmus, 53% of emails were opened on mobile.
Email works well on mobile because it was originally designed for low bandwidth and you can control the notifications and filtering. Most email programs have up to date mobile apps that make it easy to check and reply to email.
Searchable and Archivable
Social media is a steady stream of constant updates. The “tweets,” “likes” and “updates” are meant to be short in content and short-lived. Try to find a single tweet from 6 months ago. This is difficult in social media, but takes seconds in email so you always have a record of your important conversations.
Better Spam Handling
A few years ago, there was so much spam in our email that many people were tempted to give up on email entirely, But the major email providers have greatly increased the quality of their spam filters, so now it is rare that I get a spam email in my inbox.
What About Millennials and Email?
Millennials are incredibly active users of social and mobile tools. Yet, a recent survey found that Millennials check email more often than ANY other age group.
Is Email Dead?
So email isn’t dead, it is growing. So we need to learn how to use email more effectively to ensure our workday is productive.
For tips as to how to reduce distractions from email, check out our “Reducing Distractions” free online course.
– Garland Coulson, “Captain Time”