A Very Short History of Email Marketing PART ONE

The internet plays a pivotal role in the daily life of most of us now, from sourcing information to communication, and from using email to social media. Email marketing is a huge aspect of any modern business’s overall marketing and branding strategy.

The ability to send written messages via a computer network has revolutionised how we communicate, and it has also revolutionised how businesses conduct their marketing activities.

Let’s take a little look at the evolution of email as a marketing channel…

  • Before email, all mail marketing came in via one’s physical direct mail letterbox. Alongside personal mail, there would be flyers, catalogues, and other promotional material from local businesses.
  • The first email was sent in 1971 by Raymond Tomlinson via the ARPANET (the precursor to the internet). This message was “QWERTYUIOP” and it was sent via the SNDMSG application which enabled ARPANET-connected users to exchange text messages. This was also the first time @ was used to denote a specific user at a specific address.
  • The first “huge” group email was sent in 1978, by Gary Thuerk to a group of around 400 people. Its purpose was an attempt to sell a new computer product – in other words, the first group email was also the world’s first email SPAM! Thus we see the birth of email marketing.
  • In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, a British Scientist, was working on the creation of HTML, HTTP, and the first web pages to appear globally at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research).
  • The internet as we know it was born in 1991. At this time, CERN published a paper referred to as the New World Wide Web Project.
  • Between 1991 and 2001, the internet grew by 100% annually, in terms of bandwidth use, with the greatest spike in use being seen in 1996-1997.
  • Email became very popular very quickly – it was free, fast, and allowed for quicker worldwide communications that we’d ever imagined. It was, however, available only to select groups of people for the first few years of the internet. These groups included employees using a corporate email address and students using college email addresses.
  • In 1996, Hotmail was released by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith to enable people to create personal email accounts to access email from anywhere worldwide, including using public computers in libraries or other centres. It was so successful that Microsoft purchased Hotmail in 1997 for USD $400million. It was henceforth known as MSN Hotmail. Today it has three hundred and sixty-four million users worldwide (followed by Yahoo! And Google Gmail).

Come back next week for more specifics about the evolution of email marketing…

ClickSend can assist with all aspects of your email marketing – including email to SMS gateway, email to text, and even email to fax online… contact us today to learn more. And come back next week to discover more about the history of email marketing!