As ubiquitous as email marketing might be today, its beginnings were quite humble.
Just a few decades ago, nobody even knew what "electronic mail" is, except for those in the army or computer labs.
While email came to be used by the general public in the early 1990s, it wasn't until 1996, when AOL and Hotmail launched their web-based email clients. This was the moment of revelation for marketers, who foresaw that email marketing was going to get big, and that it was here to stay.
Yet, the beginnings were so humble that marketing professionals often did not take email marketing seriously if their colleagues mentioned it during brainstorming sessions.
In this article, let us take a look at email marketing evolved from its initial days to what it is now, and what we can expect to see in the coming years.
In 1998, Outlook launched HTML support for emails, which allowed marketing professionals to create beautiful emails and send them to people's inboxes.
It was around the time that email became ubiquitous and even those who did not have computers or internet connections at home used it in libraries, cafes, or at work. Even schools began to offer their students to use email, giving marketing professionals a unique opportunity to directly target customers based on their demographics.
Unfortunately, this led to the problem of spamming and marking emails being tossed into junk folders without ever being opened by the addressees. To tackle this issue, the American Congress passed the CAN-SPAM Act, which brought in regulations related to spamming. This helped to reduce the clutter and once again, revived the respect that customers had for email marketing.
As more people started to use BlackBerry devices, checking email on the go became the norm and marketing became easier than ever.
In 2007, the world as we knew it changed forever with the introduction of the iPhone. iPhone changed the way people confused emails and helped spur the modern email marketing industry. In no time, businesses started to create beautiful email marketing campaigns based on data stored in CRM and other tools.
While this did result in the resurgence of the spam issue, spam blockers and marketing repeat offenders helped to quell this problem to a certain extent. Email marketing became the mainstay of marketing professionals, replacing telephone calls, snail mail, and other forms of direct marketing.
Only when Facebook and Twitter became huge in the late 2000s did email marketing see a rival in the form of social media marketing. However, social media and email came to be clubbed together under the digital marketing umbrella, and every business that is worth its salt now engages in some form of digital marketing. Email marketing is currently the most valuable form of lead generation.
By 2015, people opened their emails on mobile devices more than they did on desktops and this gave rise to the importance of responsive and fluid emails. Though email marketing is often viewed negatively by recipients, voluntary subscription has resulted in successful marketing campaigns.
In fact, there are several factors that need to be taken into account currently, with respect to email marketing:
Email marketing is here to stay, whether a new disruptive innovation comes or not. Here are a few things that we expect will happen in the email space:
An email has come a long way since the 1990s and is currently the most preferred marketing platform. It consistently helps businesses to find leads and nurture them all along their buying cycle. Yet, there may be some fundamental changes that can be expected in the future.
These changes include compliance with GDPR, updating contacts and cleansing email data, and segmenting emails into different groups. All this can take a long time and hurt your temporal resources more than you can ever imagine.
Hire an external agency to unburden yourself from the responsibility of managing email marketing campaigns.
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