Email is 50
Email is 50 years old. As per the Lindy effect, “the future life expectancy of some non-perishable things like a technology or an idea is proportional to their current age, so that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy. Where the Lindy effect applies, mortality rate decreases with time.” The death of email has been forecast numerous times through the past couple decades, but email’s usage has only increased with each passing year. Even as the popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Slack has grown, email has more than held its own. In the coming cookieless world, the importance of email is only going to rise – the email address is first-party data that brands will need to engage with their prospects and customers.
In Netcore, we have been in the email business for almost 25 years. We had started in 1997-98 by providing Linux-based email servers for businesses. A decade later, we launched our email mass marketing platform. Today, even as the Linux email servers business is still going strong with hundreds of corporate customers in India, we have added Cloud mail via Google and Microsoft. The bigger success has come from being an email service provider (ESP). Netcore delivers 11 billion emails each month for its enterprise customers globally, making it among the top 5 independent ESPs in the world. So, we in Netcore have had a ringside view to the rise of email by B2C enterprises.
P2P email’s rise began with Hotmail and Yahoo, and then accelerated with the launch of Gmail. Anyone could create a mailbox for free. Even as the cat-and-mouse game continues between spammers and the mailbox providers to ensure clean inboxes, the use of email for both transactional and promotional emails has continued to skyrocket through the years. Along with the mobile number, email has become the ubiquitous digital identity that provides entry for social media and ecommerce. For push-based brand communications, email has no competition – A2P SMSes are too expensive, WhatsApp is too restrictive and even more costly for commercial use, and push notifications are more blocked than delivered. Brands need scale and certainty; only email can deliver both cost-effectively.
Over the past few months, I have been working on an idea to make brand communications better. Microns – micro newsletters/nudges/nuggets – can take response rates of emails even higher, and enable specific use cases like reactivation and branding. I had discussed microns briefly a few months ago. (The one change since I wrote that series: we are building a B2B platform for publishing microns at MyToday, and thus have moved the content microns to Vartam.) In this series (and future ones), I will go deeper into microns and explain how it can make email and Gmail better.