Is the inbox out-dated?

I remember when email was just email; long before the days of newsletters, notifications and unsolicited subscriptions from B2B services.

The mid-to-late 1990s were good times.

Of course, email became more than just the heir to text-based correspondence, transforming into a legit marketing tool around the turn of the millennium.

As it did with the fax machine and snailmail, email is now being replaced by a brand new hotness that is embraced by consumers and businesses: messaging.

History Repeating Itself

The meteoric rise of messaging mirrors email’s own.

Take Microsoft’s 1997 acquisition of Hotmail, the world’s first free email service, for $400 million. That may pale in comparison (even given inflation) to Facebook’s 2014 purchase of WhatsApp for $22 billion, but it established precedent that these technologies could emerge as both financial boons and societal ubiquities.

Like messaging a few years back, email was regarded as kitsch in the workplace in 1993. But only a decade later, in 2003, 77 million users had professional accounts.

In 2000, there was a total (personal and workplace) of 891 million accounts worldwide. Now, let’s parallel that to messaging today. Usership for messaging apps has similarly swelled in number, in even more astonishing figures, charting a growth of 550 million users in less than two years.

What took email 10 years in growth, took messaging 4.

In fact, according to some statisticians, around 75% of internet users use mobile messaging. That translates to about 1.4 billion users. Activate reports a forecast of 1.1 billion NEW users by 2018. Those are numbers only now being realized by email, after some 45 years of public use.

Teens Saying Goodbye to Email

As email does continue to grow, younger users are signing off en masse, in favor of their beloved messaging apps. According to a 2015 Scientific American piece, email has already declined by 18% in the 25-to-35 year-old demographic; and by 60% with teens.

That’s not just a migration. It’s an exodus; which begs the question:

Why?

Messaging = responsiveness + conversational

Simply put, it’s evolution. Messaging is faster, more convenient and has personality.

Faster. Messaging is more conversational by nature, not being tied, as email is, to the “Dear” this / “Regards” that formality of traditional mail. We’ve dropped the niceties for more relaxed and direct conversations.

Responsive. Messaging finds strength in the idea of presence; that there is someone (or something if it’s a bot) available for instant support, hence instant messaging.

Personality. Messaging has taken much quicker omni-channel approach to communication and commerce, which email itself has really only recently undertaken. Sure, email marketing has been around since 1998 (or at least its regulation has), but the first official multimedia message was only sent as of 2004.

Messaging apps, on the other hand, have implemented multimedia marketing quicker, more natively and creatively in a number of interesting ways; allowing companies to brand images, GIFs and emojis; or inviting users to engage brands directly and instantaneously in an upgraded version of customer support.

Thank You Email

Make no mistake, messaging apps would not be as rich or robust today without the trailblazing history of email; their lineage is shared, and will inevitably be redrawn once the next “next big thing” drops.

Our bet, today, is on businesses leveraging messaging to improve customer experience. And we want to be here to make that simple, scaleable and fun for them.