The evolution of e-mail.

It’s all about mobility now.

With the proliferation of mobile screens in both the business and personal environments, it was bound to have an impact on the way that people interact with e-communications.

And now we see the extent.  Recently-released stats from e-mail software and analytics company Litmus in its 2019 State of Email report reveal that ~43% of all e-mails are now being opened on mobile devices.

That compares to ~39% being opened in webmail and just ~18% in desktop applications.

How this is playing out is pretty clear.  People are riffling through e-mails on their mobile devices to determine what to keep and what to delete.  They might come back to the saved e-mails on a different (larger) device, but the first cut is most often via mobile.

This sort of “triage” behavior is happening in the workplace as much as in personal communications.  What it means is that the initial impression an e-mail leaves has to be super-effective like never before. The “from” line and the “subject” line have to work harder than ever to draw the attention of the viewer and avoid a quick consignment to the recycle bin.

Only slightly less important are the first one or two sentences of the e-mail content — particularly for those people who choose to have preview options activated.

It’s putting more emphasis than ever on “mere words” rather than photos, other images or eye-catching design. In an ironic twist, we’ve come full circle and are now back to where it all started with messages hundreds of years ago:  words, words and words.

Another interesting consequence is the second look that some marketers are giving to direct mail, which — although clearly more costly than e-communications – does provide far better way to draw attention of a target audience through design and imagery instead of the quick trip to the trash bin.

The Litmus 2019 State of Email report can be downloaded here.

Criptext: When a recall actually looks pretty good.

Criptext logo

I doubt there are many of us in business who have never inadvertently sent an e-mail to the wrong person … or sent a message before it was fully complete … or forgot to include an attachment.

In such cases, it would be so nice to be able to recall the e-mail — just like we used to do in the days of postal mail simply by retrieving the letter from the outgoing mail bin.

Recent news reports reveal that this capability is actually a reality now.

In the fast lane?  Criptext principals just completed a successful round of investment funding.
In the fast lane? Criptext principals just completed a successful round of investment funding.

A start-up firm called Criptext has just raised a half-million dollars in private investment funds to help it perfect and expand a product that allows any sent e-mail to be recalled — even if the recipient has already opened and read it.

According to a report from Business Insider, Criptext is currently available as a plugin and a browser extension for the popular Outlook and Gmail email services.  It operates inside of the email, enabling the sender to track when, where and who has opened emails and/or downloaded attachments within them.

In addition, Criptext also enables the sender to recall emails, and even to set a self-destruct timer to automatically recall emails after a specified length of time.

Viewing a screenshot of how Criptext works (in this case with the Gmail service), things look pretty simple (and pretty cool, too):

Criptext activity panel example

I thought it would be only a matter of time before some developer would figure out a way to “unwind” an email communiqué once the “send” button was hit.  And now we have it.

Of course, time will tell whether Criptext can live up to its billing … or if it turns out to be more of a nightmare of glitches than a dream come true.

It would be great to hear from anyone who may have first-hand experience with Criptext — or other similar email functionalities.  Please share your experiences and perspectives pro or con with other readers here.

E-mail early birds? The worm may be turning differently.

Best time to deploy marketing e-mail messages.One of the great benefits of the “online everything” world in which we now live is the ability to evaluate nearly anything about marketing not with hunches or speculation, but with hard data.

A perennial question is what time of day is best to deploy marketing e-mails to customers and prospects. The higher the propensity to open and read these messages, you’re closer to the goal of converting eyeballs to clickthroughs … and to sales.

ReachMail, a Chicago-based e-mail service provider, recently studied a large sampling (~650,000) of the millions of consumer and business marketing e-mail messages it sends out for clients daily in order to determine open rate differences based on the time of day. It normalized the data to account for different time zones.

What ReachMail found was that there are differing peak open rate times on weekends versus on weekdays:

 Weekdays: Peak e-mail open rates are between ~11:30 am and ~2:00 pm.

 Weekends: E-mail open rates begin trending upward at ~11:30 am, but don’t peak until ~4:00 pm.

John Murphy, ReachMail’s president, had this to say about people’s weekday e-mail open rate behaviors: “You would think it would spike in the morning, but they’re looking at work e-mails in the morning. Once they’ve cleared out their inbox, they’re looking at marketing e-mails in the afternoon.”

ReachMail’s conclusion: It’s best to deploy weekday e-mails between 10:00 am and Noon. For weekend e-mails, deploy them between Noon and 3:00 pm.

And this additional tidbit also: Don’t assume e-mails sent during the week will perform better than those deployed over the weekend. “People’s engagement rates are up there on the weekend,” Murphy maintains. “It’s our habit of checking e-mail all the time.”

He’s sure right about that.