Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Email

7th August, 2019 by

Email has come a long way since the days when people debated whether to use a hyphen in its name (e-mail or email?) or to add a capital letter (email or eMail?). An estimated 2.8 million emails are sent every second, of which roughly two million are spam. Fortunately, junk filters are now highly sophisticated, blocking spam while delivering legitimate messages.

The internet has evolved beyond recognition in the last 25 years, but email has remained largely unchanged. It’s also still quite mysterious, so these email tips and little-known facts may come as a surprise:

1. Email predates the internet by 20 years. 

Electronic mail was first sent by an MIT employee (to himself, as a test) in 1971. He was developing a messaging service for ARPANET, a military communications protocol, and the internet’s precursor. The message’s title? QWERTYUIOP.

2. Email accounts can be accessed offline. 

Under the old Post Office Protocol, messages were delivered to a specific device and saved offline. IMAP introduced an alternative system suitable for webmail. Yet even cloud-hosted email providers support local storage and offline actions like inbox searches and PST backups.

3. Dots are irrelevant. 

One of our lesser-known email tips is that if someone’s email address is rover.75@ISP.com, an email sent to rover75@ISP.com would still reach them. The same is true in reverse. Dots are typically added to improve legibility in addresses structured in the forename.surname style, for example.

4. Messages don’t have to be sent at once. 

Email services like MailChimp can distribute emails at predetermined times, including bulk mailings. The Boomerang Gmail plugin adds a Send Later button, allowing users to schedule distribution. That’s ideal for ensuring automated reminders and messages are sent at specific times or intervals.

5. Email account passwords are too basic. 

A computer hacker attempting to view your email inbox would have a good chance of gaining entry by suggesting ‘password’ or ‘123456’ as a password. In terms of optimising safety, email tips include choosing a lengthy password with a mix of upper and lowercase letters, and numbers.

6. Tuesday is the best day to send important messages. 

Bank holidays fall on Mondays, and people often take Fridays off to enjoy a long weekend. Little known email tips include Tuesdays being the optimal day for receiving responses and maximising engagement, with 10 am consistently being a popular time for messages being read.

7. Subject lines are crucial. 

Almost half of email is read based on their subject line, reinforcing the importance of creating a compelling introduction or call-to-arms. At the same time, words like ‘free’ and ‘win’ are frequently blacklisted by spam filters. Surveys have suggested a subject line of seven words (or 40 characters) is optimal.

8. Two-thirds of email is read on mobile devices. 

Our migration away from desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablets has resulted in evolving email habits. This is an important consideration when designing responsive messages suitable for compact portrait screens, and as well as in terms of positioning key information on top of the message body.

9. Nothing is free. 

Email is a free service because (a) it’s cheap to provide, (b) account providers learn about their customers, and (c) it enables them to sell homepage or in-app webmail advertising. Some ISPs provide free email accounts, but withdraw them when customers leave – the Post Office does this immediately, Virgin Media after 90 days.

10. Email remains the default workplace communication method. 

Despite the rise of collaborative messaging tools like Slack, and project boards such as Trello, 86 per cent of professionals list email as their preferred communication method. Being aware of email best practice has never been so important…

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