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?). People send an estimated 2.8 million emails every second, of which roughly two million are spam. Fortunately, junk filters are now highly sophisticated and block 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. You can access your inbox 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.
If your email address is rover.75@ISP.com, an email sent to rover75@ISP.com would still reach the destination. The same is true in reverse. Dots are added to improve legibility in addresses structured in the forename.surname style.
4. Messages don’t have to be sent at once.
Services like MailChimp can distribute your email at predetermined times, including bulk mailings. The Boomerang Gmail plugin adds a Send Later button, allowing users to schedule distribution.
5. Account passwords are too basic.
A computer hacker attempting to view your inbox would have a good chance of gaining entry by suggesting ‘password’ or ‘123456’ as a password. In terms of optimising safety, choose 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. Did you know that Tuesday is the optimal day for receiving responses and maximising engagement? Also, 10 am is the most popular time for reading messages.
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. Spam filters frequently blacklisted words like ‘free’ and ‘win’. 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 accounts, but withdraw them when customers leave – the Post Office does this immediately, Virgin Media after 90 days.
10. It remains the default workplace communication method.
Despite the rise of collaborative messaging tools like Slack, and project boards such as Trello, 86% of professionals list email as their preferred communication method. Being aware of your sending best practice has never been so important…