The Email Time Capsule: 2010 and Looking Ahead to 2020

I invited back a cast of digital characters who provided insight in 2010 and again in 2015 about the future of email. Now off to the races with some further thoughts on how right and wrong we were and what 2020 looks like. I’ll take the ball first on this:

Email as a Gateway Drug to Adulthood

Yes, I am aware that most teenagers are not using email. I am also aware that most teenagers are not paying rent or taking in a salary during those transformative years. In fact, regardless of your own children’s age, whether you have them at all or what you hear the young ones are doing, you must pay attention to it. Two great and informative pieces are here: “A Teenager’s View on Social Media” and “How Teens Are Really Using Social Media.” Of course, this will be different in 2020 but that is not the point. Email is gateway drug for adulthood and while most have stopped hypothesizing that email will die soon or the next generation won’t use email, in five years this crew of rabid Tumblr and Tinder users will get jobs and gradually be eased into email as a core commutation platform – both professionally and with the brands they favor. That bodes well for the channel and also means it must evolve and stay relevant for this next generation who will have different expectations and uses for email.

Jeff Rohrs, author and marketing executive at Salesforce, had this to say:

“Five years on from our initial predictions, email soldiers on as the connective tissue of Internet. In a mobile world, email is one of the most used apps. In a social world, email is the channel that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others rely upon to boost engagement outside of their core audiences. Email succeeds because the inbox succeeds. Consumers understand the medium, appreciate its stability, and welcome its familiarity in an ever-changing world.

“Email will remain a workhorse over the next five years — especially for business-critical communications. The rise of connected devices will increase the need to communicate with consumers based on real-time data and specific events. Email will be the primary platform for these communications as not all users will have mobile app access or grant SMS permission. In other words, don’t short email; it’s not the most glamorous channel, but it sure is the most reliable for consumer response.”

Jordon Cohen of Fluent had more to add to this and told me:

“Five years ago I said that we wouldn’t see rich media in email – things like video, forms, and real-time content – “yet.” I was speaking specifically about the year 2010, in a pre-HTML5 world. The good news is that a lot of progress has been made in the years since. Video in email is now widely used. Platforms like Movable Ink, LiveIntent, LiveClicker, and Power Inbox are bringing all sorts of cool new real-time email functionality into the inbox. And an even newer crop of companies like RebelMail, Scratch-It, and @Pay are starting to make concepts like interactive email and one-click purchasing in email a reality.

“Look for more innovation in the “rich email” space in the years ahead as more ISPs embrace standards that allow for richer email experiences and tech start-ups follow suit with exciting new applications for marketers.”

Thanks again to Jay, Jeff H, Jordan, and Jeff R for helping us build this next edition of the email time capsule. Until then and feel free to leave your own thoughts.

Image via Shutterstock.

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