When the internet first went mainstream in the 1990s, email was all the rage. It was trendy, fun, and somewhat mysterious – "how do those messages travel so quickly around the world!?"
Part of the reason for its popularity was that it bridged the gap between the old and the new. Even the name – email – draws directly on the concept of physical mail. This helped people understand the technology and made them more willing and able to adopt it.
It's easy to see why email had so much appeal. But as internet use has continued to grow and new technologies have emerged, it seemed like email might fade into the background as a still-important but less relevant communication tool.
Fast forward twenty years, however, and this is not the case. Email is still hugely popular and serves a very particular role in society. Email is not likely to be going anywhere anytime soon. Don't believe us? Read these 16 fascinating facts about email that prove it is far from dead.
Fascinating Facts About Email
Below are sixteen facts about email that will make it so that you don't ever think email is on its way out. If you're just looking for the highlights, here are a couple we think are particularly noteworthy:
1. 306 Billion Emails Are Sent Each Day
This number, compiled by Statista, is pretty astronomical when you think about it. There are currently 7 billion people living on this planet (give or take a few million). So, to put this number in perspective, this means every single person on the face of the Earth is sending roughly 43 emails per day.
Of course, this isn't what's actually happening. Instead, a small group of people and/or organizations send tons of emails while lots of us are just sending a few. But thinking about it this way provides us with some pretty compelling evidence that email is most certainly not dead.
What's more, the number of emails sent is actually increasing year-over-year, suggesting that not only is email far from dead, it's growing and becoming an even more significant influence in our lives. Check out how email traffic has increased over the past few years and how it's projected to continue to do so into the future:
2. The First Email Was Sent in 1971
It might be difficult for most of us to accept that in 2021, email will be 50 years old. But admit it or not, it's true, and it's proof that email isn't likely to go anywhere anytime soon. If it's already made it through 50 years of change, it can surely make it through another 50.
It makes sense that email emerged so early on in the internet movement. The web was initially created as a way for academics and scientists to share research. It follows that while connecting computers for this purpose, they would also want to connect them for communication.
What's funny, though, is that this first email sent in 1971 didn't go very far. The message typed out on one computer was delivered to the one next to it. But this event helped lay the groundwork for more extensive email networks and eventually the system we have today.
3. 4.6 Billion Email Accounts Exist Worldwide
This number suggests that more than half of the world has an email account, which is a pretty astounding number. However, what's much more likely to be the case is that people have multiple accounts. How many do you have? The average is 2.5. Considering there are around 2.7 billion email users around the world, this number makes perfect sense.
Most of us have two email addresses – a primary and a secondary. Sometimes the secondary one is used for signing up for promotions or with services, as doing so often leads to lots of ads and communication. The primary address remains for important bookings and communication amongst friends and family. Some also have a work address, which is why the average is right between two and three.
Interestingly, around half of the population has had the same email address for ten years or more, suggesting that email has become a rather important part of our online identities.
4. The Most Popular Email Clients Are Apple Mail and Gmail
For those who don't know, email clients are the programs we use when we're reading, writing, checking, and sending emails. They can either be browser or desktop-based.
We all use email clients, and as this graph shows, we mainly use just a few of them:
It might be surprising to see that Apple Mail is more popular than Gmail, but this just speaks to the ubiquity of iPhones and other Apple devices, such as iPads. Plus, Gmail is not all that far behind, and it's way ahead of any of the competition.
Next on the list, Outlook and Yahoo! Mail, are two staples that have been around since the early days of email, and while they don't have the same market share they once did, they are still in the conversation and likely will be for some time.
The rest are newer programs that have emerged over the past few years with the growth of mobile phones. Their presence is currently small, but that could easily change, especially with Samsung Mail. Samsung phones are the most popular globally, so it's not hard to see a scenario in which its email client starts becoming more widely used.
5. There Are 1.5 Billion Gmail Users
Although Apple's email client is the most popular, Gmail remains on top of the email world with 1.5 billion users. There is this discrepancy because it's possible to have an account with Gmail – or any other email service – and use it on Apple's email client.
As a result, although you're accessing your email through Apple, your email address comes with the "@gmail.com" suffix.
It shouldn't be surprising Gmail has more users than any of the other email services out there. It consistently receives top marks for its user interface and functionality, and Google is at the top of pretty much everything else it does. Time will tell, though, if another service can work its way in and supplant Gmail as the world's preferred email service.
6. 91 Percent of Email Users Check Their Accounts Daily
The fact that we check our email so often is linked very closely with the fact that we are constantly on our phones. For many of us, we are never more than a few feet from our phones, and so when an email comes in, we get a notification and immediately check it.
Some of us are more disciplined and choose to wait until a specific moment in the day to check our email. Yet many more of us long to be able to say that we only check our email once per day. As we'll see in a minute, such a thing would be impossible for the average office worker.
7. We Spend an Average of 30 Hours per Week Checking for New Emails
Think about this number for a minute. If there are just 24 hours in a day, this fact, derived from an Adobe study but presented by CNBC, means that the average person spends more than one day each week just checking emails.
For some, this reality might be a bit nauseating. After all, we all know how tedious checking and responding to email can be. To think about doing it for more than an entire day at a time is terrifying.
However, we feel that these numbers are a bit exaggerated as they include people who work in offices and who spend the majority of their day on email. If you've ever worked in this environment, you know that email is the preferred means of communication in a modern office. Many workers simply leave their email screen up and are therefore attentive to their inbox and respond to things as they appear.
As a result, while this stat is significant because it reminds us just how popular and essential to our lives email is, we can't really say it represents the norm across the entire population.
8. The Average Office Worker Receives 121 Emails Each Day
Building on this last fact is this one presented by the Guardian, which says that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day. This is a staggering number that suggests that the average office worker receives just under 30 emails per hour or about one every two minutes in an eight-hour day.
When looked at like this, it's easy to see how we can spend five hours checking email each day. Even if each email just requires two minutes of our time on average, that works out to 240 minutes or four hours. And we know that most emails need more than only two minutes.
In an office setting, most of these emails are relevant and require attention and response, which is why we wind up spending so much time checking our emails in a given week.
This constant stream of work emails is often cited as a significant source of stress for office workers, many of whom struggle to keep up with the high volume of communication and long for a day when their email inbox shows zero unread messages.
9. 78 percent of Teenagers Use Email
If it's popular with the teens, then it can't be dead!
High adoption rates among teenagers suggest that all the forecasts about email usage and popularity growth will probably be correct.
So many things require an email address these days that kids almost have no choice; as they get older, they need to create their own accounts. This way, email continues to get new users and maintains its relevance even as newer technologies and services continue to emerge.
It will be interesting to see how teenagers use email moving forward. Up until now, email has been used in part for business but mainly for personal communication. Yet as the trend moves towards using email more and more as a marketing tool, perhaps younger generations, while forced to maintain an account to maintain their online identities, will begin to turn away from email.
However, for the moment, this does not seem to be the case, meaning email's future remains bright and full of growth.
10. 55 Percent of People Check Their Email on Their Phones
This is a number that is part of the much larger trend of people switching and using their mobile phones, as compared to desktop devices, as their primary means of accessing the internet.
In one sense, this is good news. It means that we can communicate and stay in touch with one another more efficiently than ever before. But the downside is that it means we can now check our email pretty much anywhere we are. Inc.com asked people where they most often checked their emails, and here's what they found:
All of these are troubling, but for different reasons. Checking email while in bed or on vacation suggests we have a hard time disconnecting from work, which can take a toll on our mental health. Looking at emails while on the phone or during meetings speaks to how busy and full our lives are and how difficult it can sometimes be to stay focused on one thing at a time.
However, that nearly one-fifth of us check email while we're driving shows just how skewed some of our priorities have become; we're willing to put our lives and those of others in danger just so that we can stay up-to-date with our email inboxes.
If nothing else, though, our willingness to check emails pretty much wherever we are and no matter what we're doing provides us with some pretty convincing evidence that email is far from dead.
11. Facts About Email Spam and Scams
One way to verify that email is most definitely not dead is to see how much attention cybercriminals give to it. Crooks, while less-than-respectable, are usually smart and opportunistic. They're not going to waste their time cooking up schemes and designing scams in areas where there aren't going to be many rewards.
The following few stats remind us that current cybercriminals do not see working on email as a loss of time, giving us further proof that we are far, far away from the death of email:
12. 45 Percent of All Email Messages Are Spam
Although not all spam is designed to be malicious, if you ever stop to look through the messages that get filtered out of your inbox, you will see that there are many people out there trying to get you to give away information, buy something, or both. And why are they spending so much time creating this content and sending it out if it's only going to wind up in spam folders? Well, because it works, of course!
Cybercriminals figure if they send enough junk out, then some things will get through and provide them with some sort of reward. Therefore, just a little under half of all the email messages sent worldwide are actually spam messages that are at best meaningless but at worst, very harmful.
13. Email Phishing Accounts for 90 percent of All Data Breaches'
To further hammer home the truth that email scamming works, consider this stat, which suggests that the vast majority of data breaches occur because of an email phishing attack.
For those who don't know, phishing is the tactic cybercriminals use to convince users of a system to provide them with access to that system, usually so that they can steal data or money, or both. They typically create emails that look as though they are coming from some official source but include links to websites that will harm you or your computer.
The criminals behind this content are good at what they do, and so they are quite successful at fooling people, hence why phishing remains the primary cause of data breaches. And so long as it keeps working, we can expect cybercriminals to keep using this method.
14. 1.5 Million New Phishing Sites Are Created Each Month
Further proof comes when we look at the number of new phishing sites created each month. Cybercriminals would not do this if they felt that email was on the decline or that their opportunities to do damage and make money were fewer. Instead, they are aware that email is alive and well and likely will be for some time, so they are continuing to make new scam sites that they can use to steal from people and companies.
15. Facts About Email Marketing
Another way to gauge if email is dying is to see if it remains a viable marketing channel. If companies and other organizations no longer saw email as a way to reach their clients, then they would be unlikely to continue to pursue it. However, these numbers, compiled mainly by 99 Firms, suggest that email remains a valuable connection point between companies and their audiences, reminding us that email is far, far from dead.
16. Email Marketing ROI is Around $44 per $1 Spent
That email has an ROI of 4400 percent pretty much says it all, but if we need to be more explicit, here's what this means: email marketing WORKS!
It works in part because marketers are getting better at understanding and communicating with their audiences. However, it also works because people still use email and are willing to engage with companies when they are contacted using the right messaging and approach.
Of course, this doesn't mean that if you go out and spend $10,000 on an email marketing campaign you're guaranteed to walk away with $440,000 in profit. No, you still need to spend the time crafting a winning strategy, but if you put the time into this, email's sustained popularity means there are lots of opportunities for you to succeed.
17. The Average Open Rate Across All Industries is 20.81 Percent
Just a little more than one-fifth of all emails sent by companies and/or the marketing agencies working on their behalf are opened. At first glance, this might not seem like all that impressive of a number. But it's considerably higher than the response rates for social media and other forms of digital marketing. This shows that people still place a higher value on the messages that come through via their email and are therefore more willing to respond or take action.
18. 17.75 Percent of All Emails Clicked Result in a Purchase
Building off this last statistic, this number speaks to just how impactful email marketing can be. This is because email gives companies the unique opportunity to interact with their customers in a personal way, something other forms of marketing don't provide.
Email marketing also allows companies to be more targeted in their approach. For example, they can send someone an email who added items to their cart but left them there. Or companies can contact a person who tried to buy a product that was actually out of stock, but that has once again become available.
However, email is not the only way they can do this. That nearly 18 percent of the emails sent to people to get them to buy something produce this result speaks to the prominence email still has in our lives and to its efficacy as a communication and engagement tool.
The End of Email is Not Near
All of these stats should send one clear message: email is far from dead. In fact, email is growing and is becoming even more prominent in our lives. Unless we do something to actively change this, this will likely continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. Of course, anything can happen, especially in a world where new technologies are created and adopted at lightning speed, but until then, email is here to stay.