Love Email Again? 4 Billion addresses globally makes you wonder...


These three statistics caught my attention that Mike Pattison of SendGrid shared at a recent Future of Email Roadshow.

  • 4 Billion email addresses worldwide as of 2017
  • 50 Billion devices with internet connectivity expected to be sold by 2020.
  • 322.69 Million wearable devices will be sold globally in 2017

Seeing these stats made me wonder whether email might just get a kick in the ass again and become more interesting as a communication tool…and it looks like it is.

Experiential email isn’t just an idea anymore. Real-time geo-targeting based on where you actually are when you open an email; you can use this tech now. Live data that pulls on weather based on where I am when I open my email? Wait – Is that even possible? Yep, it sure is!

Can a company actually predict what media I might want to consume because of the weather when I open an email? I mean imagine being geo-targeted in real-time and having preferences that push you relevant information. For example, Imagine an email message that would say: “Looks like it’s going to rain today…Why not book yourself a massage on the way home for that old shoulder injury.” And then it offers you available appointments in real-time.

Helpful or annoying? Well, it really doesn’t matter because your previous email activity and preference collection would have already answered this question for you. The people that like it will get lots of it and the haters will easily change their preferences, or wait for it… AI tools will learn your preferences based on what emails you open and learn what you find irrelevant.

All of these new experiences are launching now and will progressively be in use as companies ramp up the technology. Sure, not everyone will get these same experiences. Depending on what technologies companies use, about half of users not using iOS will default to a “lesser” experience.

As a marketer specializing in B2B, I can’t help but ponder a few things that will impact my clients:

How are we going to test all these wearables? I don’t own an Apple Watch or sports “thingy” but suddenly I want one. Because combined with the knowledge that most people who use wearable tech are young; 48% are between 18 and 34. (Nielsen), then that means approximately half of my clients’ target audience will be checking their emails with wearables. That’s not a trend we can ignore any longer.
With 4 Billion email addresses globally, the average person having 3 email addresses, and then considering the global population reaching 7.5 Billion this year. That basically means 1 in 6 people on the earth have access to email, and that number will only continue growing. So I think when people talk about email being “dead” – they aren’t really getting it. I think email use is changing and marketers are the ones that have to adapt their strategies.
BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) usage for businesses. For those of you not up on your BIMI (I was one of you until this weekend), they are those little logos that show up in the top left corner of your emails. Now they may become more significant. Right now you probably see them, they are populating with pictures of people you know but soon I think businesses will probably jump on this too. Whether it be a simple logo for recognition or something a little more clever.
RFC 6532 (Internationalized Email Headers) is coming into play with the use of multilingual characters. Everyone is claiming this will have a big impact globally. But I think this will actually be a good way to also help personalize content in North America. As we begin to A/B test these subject lines – we may have more options to catch people’s attention. Imagine our parent’s generation getting some content in their mother tongue or their preferred language.
If you are interested in this technology, the frontrunners are Liveclicker and Moveable Ink. But while these solutions are mighty cool, they get pretty pricey fast. And a quick tip for you marketers – many of these technologies don’t play nice together. So if you are getting excited like me, you better test out whether the choice you make works well with your current automation system.

The good news is that like everything else in tech, these tools are sure to commoditize and drop in price. So for the next year expect only the big dogs to have all the fun. But my bet is that within 18 months, everybody else will get to play too. And I’m saying it out loud – email will be cool again!


If you want to learn more about the future of email marketing, consider reaching out to me at