It’s 2017 – we really, really need to stop using email

tony is sick of email

I recently read with dismay that one in five commercial email messages worldwide fails to reach its intended target, according to the 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report from data solutions provider Return Path.

Now, if you just send and receive emails as part of your daily routine at work or socially, that might not seem a big deal. But for marketers that have come to rely on email as a principal means of getting their message across, this is a very big deal.

The research was conducted using a representative sample of more than 2 billion promotional email messages sent to consumers in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions between April 2016 and June 2017.

Result reveals that only 80% of email is delivered to the inbox, while the remainder – a full 20% – is diverted to spam folders or gets blocked altogether.

No matter how hard I try to train my spam filter, I still spend over an hour each week checking the folder for slip-ups – and there are many. I’ve lost count of how many times I have found a critical and expected email from a reliable source getting mixed up with the emails for Russian brides, penis enhancers, cannabis gummies and cheap holidays.

Even more annoying are the companies that have become so paranoid about potentially dangerous emails that their servers simply reject everything. I am currently trying to work with one Israel-based company that has this issue, and my emails from multiple email accounts keep bouncing. I thought it was just me until I discovered other colleagues had the same issue with this company’s servers. How much business is this costing them?

But getting back to emails, it strikes me that we are killing the golden goose through misuse and abuse. How many of you are guilty of sending an email when you could quite as easily gotten off your bottom and walked across the room to talk to a colleague face to face?

We seem besotted with the fact that emails put things down in writing and, therefore, prove we are actually doing something that can be traced. Sadly, email addicts are probably the least productive of all employees because they waste so much time advertising what they do via email rather than actually doing it.

No wonder social media is rushing to fill the gap for marketers, and no wonder so many are taking up the offer. But with the advent and mass adoption of ad blockers, this may be a short-lived boom.

There are so many better and faster ways of communicating these days, combining all the elements of emails and their attachments in an instant messaging environment. For example, those of you that have experienced Slack will know what I mean. Apps like this take us to a new level where messages and files are shared amongst team members instead of one’s PC or mobile device.

With most, you also know when your messages have been delivered and when they have been read. That’s critical when you are cutting a deal, chasing payment or sending instructions. Some even go as far as encrypting files and messages automatically – an extra bonus.

I wonder how long we will persist with email, considering its basic methodology has hardly advanced in 20 years. I guess the biggest problem is that there is no other ‘standard’ app that everyone uses. Skype had become widely accepted for voice and video, WhatsApp for messaging and now voice, Slack for team communications, Twitter for tweeting, etc. But this means I have to have ten or more apps on each of my devices just to keep all channels open.

Despite all this, email is still the biggest distraction of my day, and for a lousy typist, it is the most time-consuming. What to do?

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