Email is dead. Long live email.
Reports of email’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Even with a proliferation of new messaging apps and other social media tools, email is still the workhorse when it comes to communicating electronically. According a 2014 report by MarketingProfs, 123 billion emails are sent every hour, and a 2015 report from the Radicati Group shows there are 2.59 billion email users worldwide and 4.35 billion email accounts. Those numbers are expected to continue growing, especially in the mobile realm.
Thirty percent of people currently read email exclusively on a mobile device. Of Gmail’s 900 users, 75 percent of those access their accounts on mobile devices. But if email is such an important part of our everyday lives, shouldn’t it be easier to read or load? Depending on your email client or browser, some HTML-based emails can appear wonky with text or images out of alignment. It can be even worse in the mobile environment.
That’s because email development is still pretty old school. Email and websites originated from the same basic technology (HTML), but early on, email was left behind as web development standards were established. That led to the use of inconsistent and outdated coding techniques, such as tables and inline styles applied to each element.
These “old-fashioned” methods add to development time and can lead to overlooked errors or overly complicated code. And users may face increased load times or poorly rendered emails.
The digital world finally seems to be waking up to the potential email offers. In fact, email may be experiencing something of a technological renaissance. For example, Google introduced new code changes for Gmail, showing a renewed interest in how their emails are rendered. And Microsoft has partnered with email testing tool Litmus to improve the functionality of Outlook. Litmus users can report bugs and rendering issues directly to Microsoft to help improve the user experience.
Improved coding ability means that the use of inline styles will be limited or eliminated altogether. Instead, styles can be coded in the head tag of an email or stationery piece and it’s much easier to test different style elements in various email platforms. Mobile readiness is improved with the ability to hide, show, or customize certain elements based on screen size.
For the Future
Future improvements to Outlook implemented as a result of the Microsoft-Litmus partnership have the potential to inspire a path toward email design and coding standards in line with those for website development. For developers, that would mean coding emails with no more tables and being able to include animations, video, and the latest in other web developments.
As the numbers show, email isn’t going anywhere and remains an important communications tool for most businesses and organizations. With improvements in technology, perhaps it will soon become a more respected part of the world of HTML development, allowing organizations like yours to do more with your email campaigns (and with fewer headaches for your development team).