E-mail: a Story of Evolution by Design

Jan 13 22:00 2002 Cheryl Rickman Print This Article

The Killer AppKnown as ‘the killer app of the ‘90s, e-mail hascome a long way, from the dawn of e-mail ... in the 1960s and the first e-mail ... in 1971,to the present day, 20

The Killer App
Known as ‘the killer app of the ‘90s,Guest Posting e-mail has
come a long way, from the dawn of e-mail packet-switching
theory in the 1960s and the first e-mail programme in 1971,
to the present day, 2001, where rich media and java
technology have created e-mail that can battle with
television advertising and improve return on investment.

Throughout the 90s the key benefits of e-mail were in
its cost-efficiency, its quickness and click through rates.
The fact that e-mail allows for good customer retention
and prospect list building are further benefits, along
with its viral marketing capabilities and its capacity
to be responsive and customary, based on user action.
Thanks to the ability to tailor content, style and
frequency of e-mails, depending on customer buying
patters, actions and demographic statistics, e-mail
is one of the best customer-focused marketing tool
at a business’s disposal today.

E-mails nurture those important customer relationships
and allow marketers to gather market intelligence.

Says Jonathan Jackson of emarketer (http://www.emarketer.com)
“There’s also a sense of urgency about using e-mail.
What’s the first thing you do when you go online in the
morning? Head for your e-mail?”

Additional benefits have been added to the resume of
e-mail, with the rise of rich media and improved CRM
and measurement tools. And the sheer amount of usage
and growth creates an even wider audience for marketers
and businesses.

According to Jackson there is “plenty of evidence to
suggest that e-mail is indeed the killer app.” Says
Jonathan, “In the US there are 97 million active
e-mail users aged 14+ who send or receive five or
more e-mail messages every week. They account for
44% of the total 14+ population. And while there
are 97 million e-mail users today, there are only
88 million active web users.”

Naturally, with an increased usage comes a proliferation
of e-mails jostling for position in inboxes across
the globe, so the target audience is growing but the
task of ensuring that messages are read is made increasingly
difficult. Thankfully more and more options are springing
up ranging from simple HTML programmes to streaming media,
video and audio e-mail options. But more on that later.

A History
The beginnings of remote message transmission came with
smoke signals and jungle drums. This evolved towards
telegraph wire messaging and morse code via airwaves.
The telex system was also widely used from the 1920s-1980s
and the telephone network has evolved substantially towards
mobile networks and WAP technology. Just as
communications have seen massive growth in recent years,
so has e-mail.

Back in 1957 the USSR launched Sputnik, the first
artificial earth satellite. This is when experiements
in ‘packet-switching’ began. By the early 1970s, the
first host-to-host protocol was being used and the
first cross-country link was installed by AT&T
between UCLA and BBN at 56kbps.

In 1971 Ray Tomlinson of BBN invented an email program
to send messages across a distributed network.
Soon after that, Larry Roberts wrote the first email
management program (RD) to list, selectively read,
file, forward, and respond to messages. E-mail was

Two years later, in 1973, the first computer-to-computer
chat took place at UCLA and the University of London
communicated by e-mail with people in Norway.
In 1975 John Vittal developed MSG, the first all-inclusive
email program providing replying, forwarding, and
filing capabilities and Satellite links crossed two
oceans (to Hawaii and UK) as the first TCP tests were

The 1970s was the decade when e-mail really started
to take hold. The Queen of the UK, Elizabeth II sent
her first email in 1976 and shortly afterwards
emoticons became widely used.

The 1980s saw the introduction of DNS, the Domain Name
System and Internet Relay Chat (IRC). With shopping
malls arriving on the Internet in 1994. E-mail and
the net have come a long way. Today, thirty years
on, email has become the killer app.

Growth of the killer app
E-mail marketing response rates outdo banner advertising
response rates and other forms of advertising with a CTR
of 5.4%. Evidently, E-mail is not called the “killer app.”
for nothing.

The amount spent on e-mail marketing has risen from $97
million in 1999 to almost $1.1 billion in 2000, according
to emarketer, with future spending set to increase.
This will rise to over $4.5 billion by 2003, emarketer

With the proliferation of e-mail messages in today’s society
and the cluttered condition of inboxes, it’s a greater
challenge to get e-mails opened and actioned. To meet
this challenge make e-mails:
· Precise, clear and simple
· Customer-focused
· Timely
· Personal
· Contain information of value
· Well targeted
· Urgent
· Innovative

Other solutions that enhance an e-mail’s chance of getting
read have recently sprung up, including rich media applications.
For example, video e-mail is perfect for those who aren’t
great copywriters but communicate well when they talk or
present something.

Rich Media E-mail Solutions
Text can cause misunderstanding and can be ambiguous, and at
the same time ‘everybody sends text e-mails, they’re boring’.
Using audio or video e-mails is a surefire way to rid e-mails
of ambiguity. There are several programs available, here are
just a few:

elive2u™ is easy to use live real time video email
http://www.elive2u.co.uk .

This programme allows you to communicate in real time
with anyone, anywhere who is connected on the Internet.
You just need the elive2u™ software, a PC camera
microphone and speakers and, providing the user owns a
web camera, you can send your video email with the
simplicity of a text based HTML document. Access to the
live streaming audio/video email is just as simple.
Recipients do not need to book or utilize a central
server, need no expensive plug-ins and require no
software other than their regular email client, as
long as it supports HTML and JavaScript.

The elive2u™ software enables the user to transmit
live streaming audio/video to private email accounts,
whichs provides the user with totally confidential
and private Internet transmission and it’s inexpensive

Another company, Emblaze, have licensed Microsoft’s
Windows Media Audio and Video Format using their Emblaze™
based solution for video over wireless 2.5G and 3G
networks, mobile phones and other low-resource handheld
devices. http://www.imagemind.com/. Video Express
sends both personal streaming video and audio, therefore
not requiring attachments. Your recipient does not have
to wait to play your multimedia e-mail because there
is no file attachment and they will only need the
Windows Media Player. All you need is your sound card
for voice messages and any Windows compliant video
capture board to record video.

Mailround is an innovative email branding service which
sends out all outgoing email with the company brand
www.mailround.com. While
http://www.cyberavsolutions.com/products.htm have
another video e-mail solution:

VideoLink Mail 2.0 can send both audio and video.
It works with any email software that lets you attach
a file and also works well with most cameras and video
capture cards. The recipient needs no special software
to play the video, because the player is embedded in the

Videoshare at www.videoshare.com offer a free downloadable
software application that enables users to send
streaming video via email, greeting cards and embed
video on web pages.

There’s plenty to choose from, so why opt for Rich Media?

1. It Gets Attention! If executed properly, the return
on a rich media email campaign can be much higher than a
regular plain text or html campaign.

2. Not only is this a novel way to receive e-mail. It
provides its readers with a lot more stimuli and information
about the product or service, enhancing their chances of

3. Less effort is required to view a video e-mail than to
open a text e-mail, click on a link and browse a site.

Whatever you decide, before embarking on a rich media
email campaign do your homework. Think about the
capabilities of your list, your message, your target
audience, the costs involved and plan your campaign very
thoroughly. And always keep abreast of new technologies.
So where will e-mail be in another 30 years? I wonder…

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About Article Author

Cheryl Rickman
Cheryl Rickman

Cheryl Rickman is author of, 111 winning ways to promote
your website successfully. and the founder of
http://www.webcritique.co.uk where she offers website
appraisals, personalised web promotion plans and press
releases, plus web page writing, editing and proofreading

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