As Britain waved goodbye to decimal currency, Muhammad Ali lost for the first time to Joe Frazier and John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded their iconic single Power To The People, the very first email was winging its way to a freshly-created inbox. The year is 1971, so it’s not too surprising that the sender, Ray Tomlinson doesn’t exactly remember what he wrote back then. The email was actually sent to the same computer as part of the US Defense Arpanet program – but most importantly what this means is that email is over 50 years old as we write this. Yes, last year email celebrated its half-century anniversary.
Fast forward to 1988, when the first official ‘email’ arrived in its recipient’s inbox via Microsoft Mail on Mac OS. This was when email really started to become mainstream – and its usage has snowballed ever since.
The popularity of email – past and present
Since its inception in the 1970s, the prevalence and power of email has expanded to become a significant part of many people’s everyday lives in both a personal and professional capacity. This revolution in the way we communicate came with the release of Microsoft Outlook in 1993 (yes, it’s that old), and Hotmail in 1996, followed by Yahoo in 1997 and Gmail in 2004.
The number of email users in 2025 is forecast to reach 4.5 billion, and as of February 2022, 333 billion emails were sent and received globally each day. It’s likely that today you have received at least 100 emails (including the ‘we missed you’ from that online store you bought something from once a few years ago, and the dozens of junk emails promising millions from mining Bitcoin) and checked your inbox at least 20 times. Email remains one of most productive marketing methods in terms of ROI – but it’s getting increasingly difficult for brands to be heard over the noise of so many others targeting customers in the same way, an issue illustrative of the digital bombardment many of us are exposed to every day.
So where does email sit within the future of business interaction? With more than 200 billion sent per day and 4.4 billion active email addresses, email is still a primary form of communication for many businesses and individuals. But as email is starting to be taken over by other smarter, more efficient methods, where does its place in the contemporary creative, corporate and commercial worlds lie?
Email has evolved, but it’s falling behind
Email (short for electronic mail, if you didn’t know) started a revolution in the way we communicate with one another. It can be argued that all forms of electronic messaging were conceived via the initial introduction of the email – from texts, Whatsapp and online chats to instant messengers and even customer support bots.
Email has certainly evolved since its inception – but by and large it still looks and operates in a very similar way to the early prototypes. Take a look at a screengrab from the first version of Outlook and compare it to now and aside from the branding update, and it’s pretty much identical.
Of course we can now embellish emails with emojis, attachments, cloud uploads and even gifs. But are there now more efficient, easier ways to share these types of data and communicate with colleagues?
How modern forms of communication increase efficiency
Clogged inboxes, a distracting barrage of spam and a confusing rabbit hole of threads that often seem impossible to find what you need within – these are all significant drains on productivity that email brings. Most of the emails we receive each day are marketing messages, many of them unwanted, unsolicited.
This issue isn’t isolated to our personal inboxes – it’s a problem at work, too. Within the space of one email chain of continuous back and forth there could be a simpler and more straightforward solution to help us get to the point using less time and energy – as many companies are now discovering.
This is where intelligent apps come in which have been created specifically with efficiency and clear communication in mind. Known as productivity planners or project management apps, they actually go a step further, enabling colleagues and clients alike to clearly understand work processes, receive key information and obtain project updates.
Communication within creative agencies
Creative agencies have really been at the forefront of the movement away from email and into other forms of communication when dealing with clients. This is likely because any type of creative project, whether it’s fresh branding, a new website or digital marketing campaign, requires a group of different people all working together as part of a team yet also, independently. Now more than ever those professionals are less likely to be situated in the same place at the same time – and even if they are, the client will still be checking in remotely. This means that communication channels need to be open and easy to interpret, use and understand, helping the process to run along smoothly rather than causing confusion or delays.
And when it comes to web design, modern communication methods really come into their own. Sharing designs, content and technical data for approval and review is often clunky via email, so new forms of interaction have emerged victorious. The editing and approval process also becomes complicated and confusing – within multiple email threads, it’s difficult and time consuming to see who said what and when, and about which element.
Here at Candy, we use Slack, Asana, WhatsApp and a variety of other channels to share with our clients. Which option we use generally depends on a number of factors – including what’s most efficient, and what the client prefers. Through these channels it’s incredibly easy to share, collaborate and converse on a project in real time – as well as track the creative, technical and approvals processes involved in executing any type of large-scale undertaking such as a website construction or new branding design.
Ready to step into the future with us? Speak to us today about your creative project at email@example.com