Email isn’t going anywhere, of course. We just think that email is broken. When we get a new job, we are granted a new email address—as email is part of our identity associated with that employer.
Even our other personal email address(es) form a part of our identity, too.
Yet email continues to frustrate us in so many ways, large and small. Let’s have a look at 5 reasons why email is broken.
We’ve become addicted to search.
Inbox search may not have been the first feature when email became popularized 20 years ago. But since Gmail entered the scene, searching one’s emails by keyword—essentially “Googling your Gmail”—has become the acceptable way to filter email.
It is because of this that email users tolerate overflowing, disorganized inboxes. Why clean things up when you can simply search?
Of course, finding the exact email you need requires thinking long and hard about the contents of that email—specifically the keyword(s) you’d need to find it—killing productivity.
Why delete? Storage keeps increasing.
Back in the early years of email, you had to delete unwanted emails as you went along, lest you use up your allotted storage.
Of course, Gmail changed all that, launching with an initial storage capacity of 1 GB per user. (It’s now 15 GB shared across Google Drive, Google Photos, and other services.)
Without the need to ever delete an unwanted or unsolicited email, users have become lazy accustomed to this and so inboxes keep growing.
Email is often the continuation of a conversation that started elsewhere.
Slack, Teams, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and texting seem to dominate one-to-one communications these days.
However, longer, more important conversations with more people—especially when there is critical information or documentation involved—still take place via email.
“Can you send me an email about this?” we find ourselves saying.
Receipts, invoices, chat transcripts, and account information does not (and should not) live forever in a Slack or text message. Email serves as the “record” for such information. As these records multiply, so do inboxes.
A new strain of cold email pitches
A new strain of email solicitation has emerged in the last few years. It’s not spam, it’s not marketing automation (á la Hubspot or Marketo) because you haven’t opted in. This gives off the impression that your email is broken.
It’s the result of bulk emailing systems that send pitches using verified emails (yes, your work email address is alive and well and living in semi-public, mega databases). Software review aggregator website G2 calls this new category sales engagement.
Email providers—yes, even Gmail and Outlook—struggle to keep up with sales engagement and these newfangled categories of email. Some of these cold emails arrive in your primary inbox, others go to promotions/other, while others go to spam. Who knows? Maybe one here or there might be useful. How will you ever know, if you can’t find it?
Whew! I filtered my inbox. Now, for my other devices.
Reading and responding to email is still an important, daily user experience (UX). Google and Microsoft are quite aware of the need to invest in UX tools -- so how come reading an email on a phone is different from reading it via a browser, or different from reading it via a third-party email client?
Because of these varying experiences, users might not care as much about optimizing their inbox. They might prefer to only read email via one device, but then compose emails via another. As such, the need to organize or filter messages varies.
What can we expect from email moving forward?
With a long history, it’s time email considered getting back to its roots, because while email is broken, it can be still be used effectively and even fixed.
Email is still a personalized, one-to-one communication method that people feel ownership of and connected to. As such, it’s not going away anytime soon.
Email just needs a way to become more effective and efficient. It needs to be more intuitive so users can find and read the most important messages quickly. Users simply want more control, convenience, and inbox management.
This is why we are developing InMoat. To put email receivers in control over their inbox so that can filter, organize, and gain insights into how they receive and manage their email inboxes. With InMoat you will be free from more unwanted emails, unsolicited sales pitches, and malicious spam, so you can focus on more important things.