The Killer App Known as ‘the killer app of ‘90s, e-mail has come a long way, from dawn of e-mail packet-switching theory in 1960s and first e-mail programme in 1971, to present day, 2001, where rich media and java technology have created e-mail that can battle with television advertising and improve return on investment.
Throughout 90s key benefits of e-mail were in its cost-efficiency, its quickness and click through rates. The fact that e-mail allows for good customer retention and prospect list building are further benefits, along with its viral marketing capabilities and its capacity to be responsive and customary, based on user action. Thanks to ability to tailor content, style and frequency of e-mails, depending on customer buying patters, actions and demographic statistics, e-mail is one of best customer-focused marketing tool at a business’s disposal today.
E-mails nurture those important customer relationships and allow marketers to gather market intelligence.
Says Jonathan Jackson of emarketer (http://www.emarketer.com) “There’s also a sense of urgency about using e-mail. What’s first thing you do when you go online in morning? Head for your e-mail?”
Additional benefits have been added to resume of e-mail, with rise of rich media and improved CRM and measurement tools. And sheer amount of usage and growth creates an even wider audience for marketers and businesses.
According to Jackson there is “plenty of evidence to suggest that e-mail is indeed killer app.” Says Jonathan, “In US there are 97 million active e-mail users aged 14+ who send or receive five or more e-mail messages every week. They account for 44% of total 14+ population. And while there are 97 million e-mail users today, there are only 88 million active web users.”
Naturally, with an increased usage comes a proliferation of e-mails jostling for position in inboxes across globe, so target audience is growing but task of ensuring that messages are read is made increasingly difficult. Thankfully more and more options are springing up ranging from simple HTML programmes to streaming media, video and audio e-mail options. But more on that later.
A History The beginnings of remote message transmission came with smoke signals and jungle drums. This evolved towards telegraph wire messaging and morse code via airwaves. The telex system was also widely used from 1920s-1980s and telephone network has evolved substantially towards mobile networks and WAP technology. Just as communications have seen massive growth in recent years, so has e-mail.
Back in 1957 USSR launched Sputnik, first artificial earth satellite. This is when experiements in ‘packet-switching’ began. By early 1970s, first host-to-host protocol was being used and first cross-country link was installed by AT&T between UCLA and BBN at 56kbps.
In 1971 Ray Tomlinson of BBN invented an email program to send messages across a distributed network. Soon after that, Larry Roberts wrote first email management program (RD) to list, selectively read, file, forward, and respond to messages. E-mail was born.
Two years later, in 1973, first computer-to-computer chat took place at UCLA and University of London communicated by e-mail with people in Norway. In 1975 John Vittal developed MSG, first all-inclusive email program providing replying, forwarding, and filing capabilities and Satellite links crossed two oceans (to Hawaii and UK) as first TCP tests were run.
The 1970s was decade when e-mail really started to take hold. The Queen of UK, Elizabeth II sent her first email in 1976 and shortly afterwards emoticons became widely used.
The 1980s saw introduction of DNS, Domain Name System and Internet Relay Chat (IRC). With shopping malls arriving on Internet in 1994. E-mail and net have come a long way. Today, thirty years on, email has become killer app.
Growth of killer app E-mail marketing response rates outdo banner advertising response rates and other forms of advertising with a CTR of 5.4%. Evidently, E-mail is not called “killer app.” for nothing.