You’ve got junk
When personal computers first came out to the mass market, one of the advantages that was sold to us was email. Electronic mail – you can send letters and messages to other people electronically instead of via Royal Mail. This was seen as a fantastic thing at the time. It opened up so many possibilities about keeping in touch with family and friends rather than having to write letters, buy a stamp, go to a post box, post it and wait several days for it arrive.
If you wanted to have a conversation with someone in writing, the letter approach was slow and cumbersome. Electronic mail was seen as totally revolutionary and one that the world was going to grasp fully.
Sending messages not proper letters
Fast-forward a couple of decades to now and we see things slightly differently. Mobile phones and tablets mean that communication is done instantly via texts, instant messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other instant communications. So what has happened to email in the meantime?
Businesses still use emails for so much. Some use emails more than they should do at times. There is a push within some organisations to reduce email use and to have more conversations and to try and get staff to do more face to face communicating.
What do I do?
From a personal perspective, I used to send quite a few emails to friends in the early days. Nowadays I have realised that I hardly send any anymore. Why is this? Is it just that there are other communication channels in place? Is it that I spend too long during the day working on emails, that I don’t feel like sending emails outside of work? Or is it something different?
I get my emails on my mobile phone. No, I’m not boasting here, I’m just stating that this is the case for many people nowadays. To be honest, writing large amounts of text and updates isn’t ideal on a phone. It is better for short, snappy messages and not letter length amounts.
Not just is the device I use part of the reason why I am not sending so many emails. I also think that emails for personal use have been swamped by the masses of emails that are sent from businesses advertising and marketing their goods and products to me.
Do you want an electronic receipt? Yes please. I can then delete it when I am happy with the product as and when I feel like it.
Do I want to receive weekly or even daily emails from your company until I finally get round to unsubscribing? No, that is not why I gave you my email address to receive my electronic receipt!
The only way to sign up for certain offers nowadays is by giving that company your email address. By saying you want to receive offers on products, you are now saying I give you permission to annoy me by sending me far too many emails. Net result is that I don’t read any of them and delete them from companies that I am not immediately going to buy from.
What I think is missing is responsible marketing from companies. If I want to receive information about offers that are happening, I only want to receive it so often. Monthly I would see as fine, weekly seems too excessive for many ‘non-essentials’. Daily is just wrong unless it has been asked for by the consumer / email recipient.
I end up getting far too many emails from businesses that aren’t finetuned for my requirements of what I want, or related to what I have bought in the past. I don’t get a close enough match to what I want.
One problem with email is also one thing that it was sold as a benefit in the first place. The cost. If you have a data connection, it is free to send. Therefore, businesses have pounced on this and used your acceptance of their mostly not read terms and conditions to mass send out content that you won’t read.
Is this just me being grumpy and moaning about something that as an electronic writer with a wish for people to sign up to my mailing list I should notice the irony? No, because it comes back to my point about being responsible. If a mailing list is sent out monthly, it isn’t seen as excessive. If it is sent with the expectation of the contents that we are expecting, then great. If it is too frequent, too far away from what we are expecting, or if it is in any way excessive, we are not going to be happy to keep receiving it.
Personal email is virtually dead, and while it won’t be weaned out completely. Not many people I know ask for personal email addresses anymore, they ask if they are on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. In the same way that people rarely swap telephone numbers so much now, that seems to have gone too, or is being phased out and all but replaced by the same tech companies I’ve mentioned here.
I fear that big business and their marketing approach has suffocated the personal email and I think it is a sad place for us. The ‘You’ve got mail’ notification from AOL in the early days should be replaced by a ‘You’ve got junk so don’t bother wasting your time looking’ notification!