Compared to most internet technologies, email has had a pretty long and successful shelf-life. Because of this, there is nothing that technology commentators love more than to predict its demise. And yet, email is still growing and thriving.
Because at its heart email is very simple. It is an open, but flexible communication protocol that allows people to electronically message each other. The clients that have built up around it, from Outlook to Gmail, have all added a range of useful, extra functionality, but at its core, email still remains in its original form.
So when people talk about the future of email, I think it’s more appropriate to initiate a discussion around the future of email clients – the software that makes email useful and manageable.
This was brought home to me in the last few days through a couple of announcements that have excited the tech (and social media) world.
The first was Facebook’s revelation that it is planning to completely overhaul its messaging system and bring in a fully functional email client. This was seen by many as a direct challenge to Google and its email client Gmail (or Google Mail as it’s known in the UK).
A day later, Google hit back with Google Buzz – a social network aggregator that sits within Gmail to give email users quick and easy access to their online networks and communities.
The future of email looks rosy
Both announcements are attention grabbing in themselves, but they also tell us something very interesting about the importance that both Facebook and Google are placing on the role of email in our lives, which flies in the face of the often quoted headline: ‘Social is the death of email’.
Facebook is committing itself to email rather than its own internal messaging service, and Google is also showing its commitment to email by embedding what many people believe to be one of the biggest social media moves in recent years – Buzz – within its own email client.
All this presents a very exciting opportunity for marketers to use email marketing even more effectively.
We’ve spoken on this blog a number of times about the unique role that social media can play in an email marketers arsenal, and with these developments, the two worlds have become even closer.