The Explosive Use of Email

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Emails are one of the most significant forms when it comes to effective communication within small and large-scale organizations. Corporates often depend on their entire work processes on “approval emails”. Not only that but marketing efforts are also being pursued with the help of emails. Users also require email for sending and receiving personal information including attachments. Yet, these are just a few uses of email. In reality, the use of emails has expanded to various sectors and industries.

History of Emails

Pre-Email Era 1840 – 1930

The idea of sending and receiving emails has evolved from messages that were originally sent via electrical telegraph. The electrical telegraph was a communication system that was used to send messages from one place to another, often vast spaces between them. There were two stations involved in this which included the sending station as well as receiving station. It was one of the foremost systems for the development of the internet and then, emails. The electrical telegraph was used between the 1840s and mid-20th century after which emails replaced the use of the electrical telegraph.

Electrical telegraph of 1837

The Use of Teleprinter 1933 – 1960

Before emails finally came into mass usage, there was a short time during which teleprinters were used. Most people don’t even know about teleprinters because they were not as common as the electrical telegraph. A teleprinter device used an electromechanical mechanism to send and receive various forms of typed messages. They were just an extra option announced for mainframe computers and minicomputers; one reason why they were not common among the public.

A teleprinter was used in the World War II Times

Closer to the Email 1960 – 1969

As the information systems industry grew, technology was growing. Firstly, the closely related program to emails was introduced in the military network of the United States. By 1962, the AUTODIN Military network established a message communication system that sent messages between 1350 terminals. In terms of numbers, there were over 30 million messages per month with more than 3000 characters. Surprisingly, this was one of the biggest innovations of that time because, before this era, teleprinters were not as useful.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were already on their way to establishing a better and much more convenient way of communication that eliminated the need for paper communication. In 1965, the first-ever program called the “MAILBOX” was introduced by a group of engineers and IT specialists at MIT. Although it wasn’t exactly an email program, it did set the first brick toward the creation of modern email systems. Using the MAILBOX program, the users of different computers in this university could leave messages for other users, and they would see them as they logged on to the computer.

Email icon with a pink circle and a white envelope

The First Email Onwards 1969 – 1979

In 1969, the company ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was the company that sent the first message ever from a computer to a computer. This was regarded as the first-ever email sent. It was a significant improvement that data between multiple computers could be sent. By 1971, the SNDMSG was a company that sent an experimental file and was considered the first-ever electronic mail. Ray Tomlinson is the man behind the first ever email sent.

This is the same year when the “@” symbol was introduced to differentiate between the email addresses of the local port and host. Within the next 5 years, 76% of the traffic of ARPANET was via email systems. However, this was just the start of it. It allowed for organization-to-organization emails rather than a full-scale personal email system.

“@” sign used to discriminate between web and email addresses

Email Gets Stronger 1980 – 2000

Many small changes were being made to the email systems such as distribution lists, client management systems, and multiple programs offering email services. However, a significant change was noticed in 1980, when Wang Laboratories brought the concept of attaching voice messages along with an email. This remarkable development laid the foundation for several other forms of files also being sent over email.

By 1981, the Xerox Star was being sold which came with network and email facilities. This meant that the email option was now also present to personal and commercial users. The 1980s was the decade when many other businesses also joined the email market to offer the service. The famous technology company, Hewlett Packard, sold the first HPMAIL in 1982.

In addition to that, the email service now also offered compatibility for the communication between bulletin and board systems. This was known as FIDONET. By using a full-scale store and forward system, it could communicate between public and private forums. Emails were becoming the new norm, and the major threat was seen by the postal mail service providers.

During the 1990s, the option of chatting via emails and a live messenger was also offered. Hotmail was introduced in 1996, offering public users an email service with a dedicated mailbox and an option to send and receive emails on a massive scale. One year later, in 1997, Yahoo Mail offered almost the same features as Hotmail did. The services offered some base storage as well.

Yahoo Messenger was offered in 1998, providing an instant messaging service protocol between the users. In July 1999, MSN Messenger was introduced, allowing people to communicate in real-time. There was also an option of chat rooms to join and communicate with multiple people at a time.

Yahoo Mail on a cellular device

The Current Era 2000 to Present

Despite the fact that the email market has crossed 306.4 billion emails per day as of today, it has now become quite consistent in many ways. In 2004, Google announced its email service by the name of Gmail. This service offered higher base storage of 1GB to the users in competition to 100MB of storage offered by Yahoo. Yahoo Mail tried to increase the storage, but not much success was seen.

Google was becoming the search engine used by everyone, which is why Google Mail became more popular. Google started to improve the various features of the mailing system, such as concerning security issues, options to add multiple file formats, group emails, and a mobile email application as well. While the competitors did follow the moves of Google, they couldn’t stand against the tech giant. Today, Gmail has become the number one choice for individual users as well as businesses, dominating more than 90% of the entire email sector.

Emails have become smart and sophisticated today, with improvements being made via Artificial Intelligence. Start writing an email, and Gmail will provide you suggestions to improve it gradually. Gmail smart security systems have made hacking extremely difficult, offering better security options to the users. Multiple authentication systems have been introduced. Gmail has been integrated with Google Messenger called Hangouts. However, Hangouts did not seem to be popular as other messenger applications that are available.

Gmail by Google logo

Email History – A Summarized Timeline

History Of Digital Communication

Types of Email

There is a high chance that if you are reading this, you might also have access to email. However, many people don’t know the differences between various kinds of emails.

Professional Email

A professional email is something that is purely work-related. Someone from the office might be taking a follow-up on a task they assigned you, or it could just be a message from your manager regarding the weekly email. It could also be a directly work-related email containing an attachment that requires a prompt response. Such emails are written in an exceptionally formal tone. The email starts with words like “Respected”, “Mr.”, ”Miss “ and “Honored,” etc., followed by the name of the person.

A professional email ends with regard, a request for response, or any form of acknowledgment that the mail has been received by the user. Professional emails are also done regarding hiring or firing a particular person from an organization. They can also be sent from one organization to another organization.

A person typing on a laptop

Promotional Emails

When a business interacts with its customers for the purpose of marketing and promotion, it is referred to as a promotional email. Sometimes, you go to a store like Walmart and give them your email, they record it and then send you various kinds of promotional emails. This could be like a discount, a bulk offer, or any other kind of product marketing such as a business’s Black Friday sale. Promotional emails are generally good for the business but not always for the customers.

Sometimes, these emails are just too much, which results in the negative marketing of a business. Many users opt out of the list for any promotional email because they are just too much. However, recently, Google has come up with a solution to this problem by automatically detecting various kinds of promotional emails and segregating them from the important primary emails of a user. As a result, it does not look like a mess anymore.

Email marketing is another name for promotional marketing over the internet

Spam / Scam Emails

Ever seen the trash section in your email? It has detected several emails that were not sent to your inbox rather, they are stored in the trash or spam center because they are deemed to not be safe. Sometimes, they are just deliberately sent to scam a person out of their money, while at other times, these emails are just to misguide you to a particular website, where you could be sharing a lot of your personal information like your credit card details, etc.

Often, the hackers use a set of attachments to send an email. These attachments, when downloaded, could cause a major virus in your system. Emails like “Big Money Offer, Amazon Discount Card, Tax Payment Money, Walmart Money, Grant Money, Loan Scheme” and other such emails are considered scams, and you should stay away from them. No need to even open them as they are quite luring.

Multiple envelopes with SPAM written on them

Personal Emails

As the name suggests, this kind of email is between two individuals usually, where any personal data is shared. The email can be in a conversational and casual tone while it is not necessary. Sometimes, people share images, videos, or other forms of media over email. However, personal emails are no longer common as better applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and Instagram have better messaging and instant communication facilities.

Survey Emails

One of the most popular forms of email is when a particular business, individual, or organization is trying to conduct a survey. This is usually a one-off email sent to get participants to have their responses sent out on a particular survey. Sometimes, the survey is on an external link and sometimes on an email-based attachment. Survey emails are not very common these days, but some institutes still use them.

Online surveys can be conducted via emails

Do-Not-Reply Emails

You might have received an email saying, “Do Not Reply to This Email.” This is usually an automated email that does not require a reply. Even if you try replying, the system will not allow it, and the mail center will give you an error. Besides, these emails do not have any kind of information which requires a reply. If they do require a reply, or if the person does want to contact the sender of the email, an alternative email is usually provided.

Automated emails are usually sent by banks or other large-scale organizations where back-end programs generate such emails and cannot receive any responses. For example, the bank could send you a one-time transaction pin over your email, but this email cannot be replied to, nor does it require a reply. In another case, Amazon.com sending you a receipt for your order is also an automated no-reply email. If you have any queries, the email address for customer care is also provided within the same email.

Automate email on a blue key

All About Different Types of Emails

Types of Email

Email in Numbers

Number of Email Users from 2017 to 2025

Number of e-mail users worldwide from 2017 to 2025

Source: Statista [9]

The following chart shows the number of emails sent between 2017 and 2021. The forecast data for the following 4 years has also been provided, considering the previous trends and patterns and the changes in the professional email structure. From the trends, it can be seen that there has been an increase of about 800 million users between 2017 and 2025. We can conclude that emails are still relevant, as opposed to the popular opinion that communication methods other than emails are now used.

Number of Sent and Received Emails per Day Worldwide from 2017 to 2025

Number of sent and received emails per day worldwide from 2017 to 2025

Source: Statista [10]

The number of emails sent daily as of 2017 was 269 billion only. However, the number is expected to increase to 376 billion. This high number of emails being sent daily shows how important email is to our daily communication, business-to-business channels, business-to-customer channels, and other forms of email. Unfortunately, many of these emails also consist of various forms of spam.

Top Email Service Providers

Gmail

Undoubtedly, the world’s largest email service provider is Gmail, owned and controlled by Google Inc. As of 2021, there are more than 1.8 billion active users on Gmail. The email service is provided on a computer web browser, a mobile application, and a mobile web browser. On average, one Gmail account has around 5700 emails, which has fluctuated quite a lot in the past few years.

Gmail has emerged as the biggest email service provider because of the strong and dedicated marketing efforts conducted by Google. It was launched in 2004 and offered base storage of 1GB per user. Today, this storage has been increased to 15GB per user, while the option to send attachments has been increased to a maximum of 25MB.  Gmail offers users a diverse experience for emails, including segregating emails to their specific sections. Multiple files can be attached. The attachments are thoroughly scanned before being sent, received, or opened by any user.

Besides, Gmail is constantly working to improve the systems’ layout, speed, and performance. Since it is a free-source email service center, Gmail does not earn in terms of revenue or profit. Gmail addresses are considered to be one of the most secure ones of all. According to one report, over 92% of startups use Gmail as their primary email service center. This is because Gmail provides services to individuals and has specific setups for business organizations where Gmail acts as the primary server for sending and receiving emails on behalf of the organization while keeping the data safe and encrypted.

Gmail Logo

Yahoo Mail

While Gmail is the favorite for professional workers, Yahoo is one of the best for personal use. Much of this is due to the social reputation of Yahoo and how it marketed itself among its users. Yahoo Mail is an American email service provider owned and controlled by Yahoo Inc. It isn’t much used these days because Gmail has stormed the email market. However, much of Yahoo emails are still active. There are over 230 million active users on Yahoo following 2021.

Beginning in 1990 and until 2004, there was no major competition for Yahoo that was able to drive it from the market. However, after Gmail arrived in 2004, Yahoo Mail had a shakeup. Despite numerous efforts, Yahoo Mail could not compete against Google Mail very well, which is why Gmail became the next market leader. Over the next few years, Yahoo mail struggled with many controversies, data disruption, user disruption, and other associated issues. Gradually, Yahoo has also adapted to many of the policies of Gmail account holders. This has provided Yahoo Mail with better security facilities as well.

Yahoo Mail LogoHotmail / Microsoft Outlook

One of the popular email service providers worldwide is Hotmail or Microsoft Outlook. The odd thing about Hotmail is that it has changed names so many times that it has lost its actual identity. While Gmail and Yahoo Mail have stayed the same over the past many years, Hotmail has been quite different because it has been MSN, Live, and currently known as Outlook. There have been several changes in the software, the user interface, security, and other aspects.

With so many changes to the brand and many changes to the mailing center, many people were not comfortable with it. Besides, Hotmail is considered to be one that did not adapt and adjust according to the market. In March 2014, it was alleged that Alex Kibkalo, a Microsoft employee, had released many secrets which posed a major question to the integrity of data being shared with Microsoft by the end-users [2].

Most recently, Microsoft Outlook has become popular because of its advanced features. However, growth for Outlook does not look easy, considering Gmail has taken over the email market by storm.

Logo of Microsoft Outlook

Comparison Between Top Email Service Providers

Comparison Between the Top 3 Email Service Providers

Benefits of Emails

Faster Source of Communication

One of the foremost benefits of using email is that it is a fast source of communication. Users can send emails from one corner of the world to another with one click. It is instant, and any email reaches the other users within a few seconds. The speed has evolved over the past many years. Earlier, emails used to be received in minutes, whereas now, it takes less than 3 seconds to send or receive an email.

Transmit Various Forms of Data

Unlike the earlier systems, emails can be used to send various data to the other user. Text-based messages can be sent along with attachments, including documents, images, videos, and other files. Email is a source of broad communication and allows for major data transmission. Most emails allow for a basic data transfer limit of 25MB. If someone has data bigger than that, it can be sent via multiple emails or with the help of a cloud-based system. Either way, data transmission has become easier without using physical storage devices.

Emails can be used to send various forms of data

Documented and Professional

One of the main reasons the use of email has significantly increased is because emails are a documented form of communication. Phone calls, video calls, and other such means may provide instant and better communication, but nothing is documented. Emails are securely stored. People can give orders, queries, and complaints and then track them against the emails as they are documented while phone calls are not. This is one reason emails are considered a professional way of communication and are used in almost all businesses.

This also allows for legal proceedings to be made easier as phone calls can be tampered with using a voice, so they aren’t considered reliable. However, emails are secure and can be tracked down easily to the computer they were sent from.

All Time – Any Time

You can’t just phone someone at 3 A.M. because it’s the only time you are free. However, the alternative means is to just send someone an email at any time, and they will see it at a time of their convenience. Emails can be sent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Most top email service providers don’t even have any breakdowns, making them more reliable.

24/7

Cheap Way of Communication

Call someone, and it might end up costing you a few dollars. In the case of bigger corporations where massive communication is ongoing, this cost also rises to thousands of dollars. However, the case is quite different when it comes to emails. One email can be sent to hundreds of users simultaneously, but the cost won’t be as high as the cost of a call. Internet access has become quite cheap in most developed and developing countries; in some parts, it is free. This makes emails one of the best ways to communicate.

Emails are a cheap way of communication

Environment Friendly

Although this is not a direct benefit to the users, it is still one of the most important to consider. Emails are sent online and stored in the form of a soft copy. On the other hand, paper communication greatly damages the environment as many natural resources are used to make paper. Besides, much of this paper contributes to waste and pollution as well. Doing emails means you are being considerate of the environment and playing your part to save it.

A bulb with a green tree in it

Drawbacks of Emails

Despite being one of the best ways of communication, emails still have certain flaws that must be addressed.

Messages Unread

Although this is not a drawback associated with emails, it is the problem of users, but it can still be accounted for. Sometimes, people get too many emails, resulting in missing out on a few. This has become an increasingly common issue for people. As a result, many people have to go for follow-up calls to see if the recipient has received the mail. The convenience of emails is partially lost if the users do not actively read their emails.

Besides, emails do not provide fast two-way communication. The receiver might be busy or he may not see his email. In some cases, the email may be delayed, which might be fine. However, emails are not suitable if it is something urgent. According to one report, every adult American has about 500 unread emails, many of which might be important [3].

Unread emails might stay in your inbox

Spam or Unwanted Emails

One of the biggest problems associated with emails is that there are so many spam emails to deal with all the time. Although an email center has certain parameters set to detect any kind of spam emails, there is still a chance that some of them reach your primary inbox. This is another reason why important emails could be skipped due to many spam or unwanted emails.

Secondly, there are emails that aren’t exactly spam but they are unwanted. For example, you might have shopped at any online website, and to send you an online receipt, the website would have asked for your email. Till here, everything looks fine. However, many people start to see brand promotional emails in their primary inboxes. Consider that the same happens for 3 to 4 brands. Promotional emails are not a scam but they are not always required. Some brands do too much email marketing, which adds many unwanted emails to your mailbox. As a result, many important emails are often missed.

However, over the past few years, spam emails have significantly reduced. We can see that from the graph below.

Global spam volume as percentage of total e-mail traffic from 2007 to 2019

Source: Statista [11]

Spam emails make up a surprisingly high number of emails being sent and received at any time. Between 2009 and 2012, this number exceeded 75% of emails. This is when Google and many other tech giants decided to improve the security policies associated with spam email protection to the users. The number gradually decreased; in 2019, it was only 28.5% of the total emails being sent. One reason why the number jumped again in 2020 is that many scammers tried to rob other people by asking and telling supposedly important information regarding COVID-19, secret vaccination, other scams, etc.

Spam with 372 in brackets

Cybersecurity Issues

Over the past few years, there has been significant development in the security protocols associated with emails. Mailboxes have been made quite secure from saving devices on login to OTP connection via the cellular network. Spam centers are based on artificial intelligence and databases, allowing them to assess the different types of spam emails. Moreover, mailboxes also have the option of detecting viruses when sending attachments via emails.

Despite this strong security, hackers still manage to access the emails of various users. This raises a major question about the integrity of emails and data privacy. Are the cybersecurity issues something that should not be addressed in any way? Are tech giants such as Gmail and Hotmail weaker than hackers? According to one report, 96% of phishing attacks come via email. As of 2019, the number of email hacks was about 114,000, which increased by more than 100% in 2020 to about 240,000 [1]. This implies the fact that emails still have a major cybersecurity problem that has to be resolved by email service providers.

Cyber security is a big issue associated with emails

Top 20 Interesting Facts About Emails

  1. You might send one or two emails per day or not even that. However, according to one report, over 200 billion emails are sent daily, which makes it about 2.69 emails per second [4].
  2. People spend over 5 hours checking their email and responding to it in a professional workspace. Personal users don’t spend that much time on email.
  3. Only 40% of emails received by users are not spammed emails. This means that your mailbox comprises 60% of the spam emails only.
  4. It may come to you as a surprise, but emails are one of the reasons why many people could be facing different types of stress and anxiety issues. One report by Forbes has highlighted that people who check their emails 15 times a day or more frequently are more likely to be stressed than those who don’t [5].
  5. It may sound funny, but it is the reality that email was invented before the internet. When ARPANET sent the first email, they used electronic communication but not exactly the internet to send this email. The first email was sent in 1969, while the internet was invented in 1983.
  6. There has been a controversy that never seems to end. Is it Email, e-mail, or email? All three of them have the same meaning. However, in 2011, The Associated Press Stylebook decided to drop the hyphen and consider it a common noun, email. Still, some people confuse the words.
  7. Hackers use many types of Microsoft Office files to infect an email. This is because Microsoft Office files are usually trusted by email service providers to be safe. While most of these files are safe, they might still distract or convince you to provide personal details. Stay away!
  8. Once a person gets interrupted by an email, it will take 23 minutes or more to regain concentration on the work they were doing earlier [6].
  9. 87% of marketers rely heavily on email marketing using various promotional emails. As a result, many people have a lot of promotional emails in their inboxes. On the other hand, one study has shown that only 58% of these campaigns have actually been successful [7].
  10. One might assume that a president must send and receive many emails. However, Bill Clinton does not seem to go along with this myth. Bill Clinton claimed he only sent 2 emails as the President of the USA.

Email with multiple uses

  1. THE PRIME MINISTER OF SWEDEN, CARL BILDT, SENT EMAILS LIKE THIS. – ALL CAPS ON. It always felt as if he was shouting.
  2. In 2009, a hacking attempt showed that over 10,000 Hotmail accounts had a basic password that was easy to crack. The password was “123456”. The weird part is that many people still use this as a password to protect their email addresses.
  3. Emojis create a significant impact on the reader of the email. They can help modify thoughts, give perceptions, and be psychologically intimidating.
  4. One report suggests that an email is sometimes only opened if the subject looks good. 47% of the emails are opened based on the subject line only [8].
  5. 18% of Americans check their email while driving. Drive safe and avoid seeing your cellular devices while on the go. Emails can wait.
  6. A minimum of 260 billion spam emails are sent every day. The bad part about this is that the number keeps rising with the spammers developing new tricks and ideas.
  7. Emails with a social sharing button are more likely to get positive feedback from the reader than those that don’t. This is a good tip for all businesses as well.
  8. A lot of research has concluded that Tuesday is one of the best days to send an email to any customer. As for personal emails, or professional emails, this does not matter as such.
  9. $1 spent on an email can give a 38X return to the business. However, it depends on how well the marketing campaign is designed, executed, and followed all along the way to get the right customer.
  10. Using the word “video” in an email with the appropriate context could boost open rates by up to 19% and click-through rates by up to 65%.

Smartphone with orange bubble and mailing letter

Conclusion

The use of email has risen substantially over the past few years. Be it for personal or professional use, the consistent rise of emails indicates that people are highly dependent on emails for various uses. However, Gmail, Hotmail, and other tech giants need to focus on the various drawbacks associated with the use of emails. Cybersecurity is becoming an increasing challenge that should be resolved at maximum priority.

References

  1.   Phishing Statistics (Updated 2021) – 50+ Important Phishing Stats – Tessian. (2021). Retrieved 26 November 2021, from https://www.tessian.com/blog/phishing-statistics-2020/
  2. Microsoft Employee Gets 3 Months For Windows 8 Leaks. (2014). Retrieved 27 November 2021, from https://www.valuewalk.com/2014/06/former-microsoft-employee-gets-3-months-for-windows-8-leaks/
  3. Inbox Zero: Most hate having unread emails, a few let them pile up | YouGov. (2015). Retrieved 27 November 2021, from https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2015/06/04/inbox-zero
  4. Email Usage Statistics in 2021. (2021). Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/email-usage-statistics-in-2019/
  5. Murphy, M. (2021). The Way You Check Email Is Making You Less Productive. Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2016/09/18/the-way-you-check-email-is-making-you-less-productive/?sh=537d00a437e3
  6. It Takes 23 Minutes to Recover From a Distraction at Work. Here’s How to Minimize Calls, Emails, and Alerts. (2017). Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://www.inc.com/nicholas-mcgill/it-takes-23-minutes-to-recover-from-a-distraction-at-work-heres-how-to-minimize-.html
  7. 2019 B2B Content Marketing Research: It Pays to Put Audience First. (2021). Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2018/10/research-b2b-audience/
  8. Saleh, K. (2021). Email Subject Lines – Statistics and Trends. Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://www.invespcro.comDaily number of e-mails worldwide 2025 | Statista. (2021). Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/456500/daily-number-of-e-mails-worldwide//blog/email-subject-lines-statistics-and-trends/
  9. Number of email users worldwide 2025 | Statista. (2021). Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/
  10. Daily number of e-mails worldwide 2025 | Statista. (2021). Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/456500/daily-number-of-e-mails-worldwide/
  11. Spam email traffic share 2019 | Statista. (2021). Retrieved 28 November 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/420400/spam-email-traffic-share-annual/

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