Flashback

The Journey of Emails Down Memory Lane

mail

1971

The first network
mail was sent on
ARPANET and this
was the first step
for electronic mail,
fondly called 'E-mail'.

1988

First commercial email client, Microsoft Mail is released for Mac.

Till
1990

Pure text emails were used.

Late 1990s

Introduced us to HTML emails taking over plain text emails.

1993- 1997

Yahoo! Mail, AOL, Hotmail and Gmail get recognized as email clients.

2009

Responsive emails were introduced and 'embedded video' in email was first used.

2011

Responsive emails grabbed the momentum.

2014

Integration of CSS along with HTML brought in the era of Interactive emails.

2015

CSS animation within email gains momentum.

The Present

Emails - as We Lve Today

In the early stages of HTML emails, there was a lack of proper formatting and images were placed inline with email content. Gradually the importance of text alignment, placement (and importance) of a hero image, significance of the elements based on fold was recognized. With support for CSS3 & HTML5 along with compatibility across various email clients, modern day emails have become a force to reckon with.

Percentage of emails opened in different devices

Source: Litmus
56% of email users prefer opening email on
their mobile devices.

The overall attention span of subscribers has reduced to
8 seconds. This combined with increased email opens in mobile highlights the 2 major changes in the behavioral pattern of email subscribers

1. Responsive emails are a necessity
2. Relevancy, personalization & engagement is essential
  • Responsive Emails
    Responsive Emails

    Fixed screen emails coded for desktops tend to go haywire when viewed on a smaller screen of a mobile. Subscribers earlier (during the pre-responsive era) had to frequently scroll horizontally to view the entire email. This created poor and broken user experience, many a times initiating unsubscribe (Eeek!).

  • Personalized & Engaging Content
    Personalized & Engaging Content

    On an average, 20.5 billion emails are sent daily. In this world of over-flowing inboxes, it is necessary for emails to stand apart from the crowd. Right from personalized subject lines, crafty preview text to witty CTAs; email marketers are now ready to go the extra mile to capture their subscribers’ heart (and leads).

Human attention span is now 8 seconds. Over the years, email has evolved to convey more in lesser time.

tweet

What Make
Today’s Email more Engaging?

Pre-header Text

Pre-header Text

Otherwise named as Johnson Box, it is a snippet that doubles up as secondary subject line. Nonetheless, a great way to convey things left unsaid in the subject line.

Dynamic Content

Dynamic Content

Based on certain conditional statements, the email content has a flexibility to change according
to the statements. This way a single email can cater different information to increase personalization without a fuss. Such is the potential of dynamic content in emails.

Image oriented emails

Image oriented emails

Visually captivating email with images is very effective compared to a pure text-based email. A proper layout combined with an image can also guide the eye movements of the end-user.

Retina

Retina

Apple introduced the Retina display with the launch of iPhone 4 and revolutionized the way images are viewed. For a better view, modern emails feature images with double resolution that help deliver enhanced clarity.

Pixel Art

Pixel Art

Many email clients disable images unless user approves it. This lead to using ALT-text for conveying a message when images are disabled; some went further ahead to create art by slicing the images to form giant pixels.

Videos in Email

Video in Email

Video in email made a stunning debut, boosting the open rate to 19%. But lack of proper bandwidth and menial email support stopped it from being adopted. Again with Apple’s iOS10 supporting embedded video in email, the future looks bright.

GIF

GIF

“A picture conveys thousand words. A video conveys even more. A GIF however, makes you fall in love!” With most email clients supporting animated GIF, email marketers are harnessing the power of GIF to emulate video playback without running into deliverability issues or improper rendering.

Countdown

Countdown

The feeling of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is best captured by including a countdown timer in emails as it psychologically triggers users to take action. Most e-commerce emails now
feature counters or a countdown for limited stock offers.

With open rate increases of 19%, embedded video in email is making a comeback.

tweet

Behind the scene Tweaks to make Emails great

Evolution of email design over the years is not completely foolproof. Some email clients still wreak havoc; leading to introduction of certain policy changes (like CAN-SPAM Act).

Outlook 120dpi Mishap

On viewing emails in a display larger than 1920x1080, Outlook tends to skew image placements; fonts might become larger and thicker along with gaps in between layouts.

Spongy Layout

Gmail is the second most used email client globally, yet it didn’t start supporting media query till late 2016 (still waiting for the update). This made coding of emails in a separate layout without media query called spongy. These emails combined with media queries (for other email clients) were called Hybrid Emails.

Can-Spam Act 2003

As a step to reduce unsolicited email marketing, every marketing email sent should now feature an unsubscribe link, alongwith the sender details.

Genesis of Triggered Emails

To stand out amongst competition, emails need to reach the inbox at the right time. This is the logic behind Triggered emails and Email Automation. As soon as a prospective lead subscribes to a service, an email is immediately sent to them; that is the first step down the sales funnel.

Better support by ESPs

With Email Services Providers (ESPs) undergoing major changes in GUI aspect, making changes in email doesn’t mean skimming through lines of code but instead it is as simple as drag and drop.

The Future of Emails

Discussions and debates on ‘email marketing making way for social media’ have been rife for quite some time. However, recent innovations in the email industry beginning from interactive email designs to intricate methods of personalization and segmentation have helped put emails on the fast-track to future.

Email personalization is great in the context that it helps increase open rates. But by adding interactivity into the mix, the user
experience is enhanced. This translates into the subscriber spending more time with the email. More time spent means
increased lead generation capabilities.

Converting Present Capabilities into Future Possibilities
Multi-device Support

Increased popularity of wearables and introduction of smart appliances in the present generation market, is all set to make way for innovations like the integration of emails into IOT (Internet of Things). Soon an email to your refrigerator could get you the grocery list or an email to your car could switch on the air conditioner.

Automation & Machine Learning

Lead generation and drip marketing emails can become smarter with increased personalization. Improved machine learning in turn aids in churning the collected data to create a refined customer persona. Recommendation engines and chat bots have shown significant improvement since past few years.

Possibility of emails becoming Mailable Microsites
With introduction of various different interactive elements in emails, user experience increases. More permutations and combinations by using elements such as
  • Integrated forms
  • Tabbed browsing using accordions
  • Tooltip effect in emails

can soon transform emails into microsites so that the end-user can complete a task right within the email without depending on any supporting applications.

Moreover, the prospects of emails in Omnichannel marketing can help consumers and retailers alike. Shopping experiences can become seamless with emails connecting both digital and brick & mortar stores together. A purchase in the real-world generates a receipt in the digital domain and helps collect digital fodder for creating detailed customer persona.

Emails to soon become ‘Mailable Microsites’ with the use of interactive email elements. Know how.

Tweet

Takeaways

  • HTML emails took over plain text emails in the late 1990s.
  • In 2014, integration of CSS along with HTML brought in the era of interactive emails.
  • With attention span down to 8 seconds, it is necessary for emails to be more engaging and eye catching.
  • GIF images in email help in user engagement and with very negligible incompatibility.
  • Countdown timers in email create a sense of urgency among the subscribers – facilitating sales.
Email Monks Interactive Email Design Ebook

Unravel the Future of Emails with
our Interactive Email Design Ebook

Download Now
Thank you. Check your inbox for the Interactive Email Design Ebook.

Embed this infographic:

Tweetable Tweets:

  • Intriguing Infographic: 'Theory of Email Evolution' - Past, Present & Future.  [ Tweet Stat ]
  • Did you know, only pure text emails were used till 1990? Know the story of Email Evolution.  [ Tweet Stat ]
  • Human attention span is now 8 seconds. Over the years, email has evolved to convey more in lesser time.  [ Tweet Stat ]
  • With open rate increases of 19%, embedded video in email is making a comeback.  [ Tweet Stat ]
  • Emails to soon become ‘Mailable Microsites’ with the use of interactive email elements. Know how.  [ Tweet Stat ]