The evolution of email marketing: from QWERTYUIOP to GDPR

    47 years have passed since the American engineer Ray Tomlinson sent the world's first email. It was he who came up with the use of the @ ( at-sign ) symbol in addresses that we today, without hesitation, associate with the whole technology and even the culture of email. It was unlikely that he then guessed what this would lead to and certainly did not think that forty years later, he would enter the Internet Hall of Fame as one of the main innovators of the era.

    Over the past decades, email has evolved from a communication method into one of the main forms of direct marketing. This method provides tremendous opportunities for tracking and responding to consumer behavior, helping to promote and sell products and services to hundreds of thousands of marketers around the world.

    Service teamSendbox from has studied how email marketing has evolved from a ruthless spam to a subtle tool for engaging with an audience.

    1969 year . The U.S. Department of Defense initiated the first development of computer networks, which began the history of the Internet . In 1969, students from the University of California connected two computers through Arpanet, the first computer network. Students sent a code word to each other through a 5 meter cable. It is believed that this was the first transmission of information over a computer network.

    1971 year . Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate Raymond Tomlinson sends first ever email. According to Tomlinson himself, he does not remember the contents of this letter.

    Most likely, the first message was something in the spirit of QWERTYUIOP, ” he later said. Since then, on October 2, the world annually celebrates Email Day .

    1971 year . The first program was created to receive and send emails . It was written by Larry Roberts, an Arpanet employee. A year later, the familiar @ sign appeared in email addresses.

    1976 year . Queen Elizabeth II of England sends her first email, ahead of other heads of state.

    1978 year. Gary Twerk, who was later called the “father of spam,” sent 400 emails advertising the DEC computer to Arpanet users. In letters, Gary talked about the new device and invited to an exhibition in Los Angeles for the presentation of the computer. The first ever newsletter brought the author a profit of $ 13 million in

    1986 . For the first time, the word "spam" was used : they began to call obsessive advertising messages that were sent by e-mail. The name came from canned meat, which at that time was actively advertised through all possible channels. The obsessive tune that glorified SPAM became the object of ridicule, and a separate sketch, Monty Python, was even dedicated to the ubiquity of canned food.

    1988 year . Has appearedThe first version of Microsoft Mail on Mac OS. Users exchanged messages using the AppleTalk network. In 1991, a second version was launched for other platforms, including DOS and Windows. It served as the basis for subsequent Microsoft mail systems - Outlook and Exchange.

    1991 year . Sent the first email from space . It was sent by the crew of the STS-43 Atlantis in 1991. The astronauts used the latest AppleLink program on the Macintosh Portable of the time to send the following message: “Hello Earth! Welcome to the STS-43 crew. This is the first AppleLink from space. It's cool here, it's a pity you're not around ... We are sending cryo and RCS! Astalavista, baby ... I'll be back. "

    1992 year. Microsoft has released the first version of the Outlook email client . Three versions were released simultaneously: Outlook for MS-DOS, Outlook for Windows 3.1x, Outlook for Macintosh. The main competitor of the application from Microsoft is The Bat! the Chisinau company Ritlabs, SRL , came out five years later - in March 1997. Later, other developers also released their email clients. So there were Mozilla Thunderbird, Opera Mail . But none of them reached the level of popularity of Outlook and The Bat!

    1994 year . IBM Simon Launched - The First Phone To Have Email Access Over Mobile Internet . Thus, electronic mailings received additional opportunities to reach the addressee.

    1994 year. The President’s decree “On the Protection of Consumers from Unfair Advertising” was issued , which laid the foundation for the regulation of advertising in our country. In particular, restrictions were placed on advertising of banking, financial, insurance and investment services, but the distribution of advertising over the Internet was not regulated.

    1995 year . A federal law has been passed, which has already partially affected the distribution of advertising through the Web.. For example, a legal definition of the term “advertising” was given, to which the phrase “distributed in any form, by any means” referred. Everyone who posted and distributed advertisements, including by providing or using “communication channels,” were considered advertising distributors. So, general restrictions on advertising came to the Internet and e-mail: reliability and ethics, restrictions on the advertising of alcohol, tobacco, medicines, financial services, etc.

    1996 . The first free hotmail service appeared . Thanks to him, the number of email owners has increased significantly, which means that the potential audience of advertising mailings has expanded significantly.

    1997 year. A year after the launch of Hotmail, Yahoo buys the RocketMail service from Four11, and on its basis launches the Yahoo Mail service .

    1998 year . In RuNet, they have earned the free mail service and the thematic mailing service . Both services set standards in their respective industries. At the same time, the USA updated the provisions of the Data Protection Act so that all marketing mailings had the opportunity to refuse to receive them.

    2000 year . The infamous "Center for Conversational English" is created, which two years later thundered all over the country, thanks to the so-called "spamming business." The company daily sent out millions of advertising letters with the telephone numbers of its center. Later, spam mailings became the focus of attention of the Ministry of Antimonopoly Policy.

    2000 year . AOL began to broadcast user feedback to some email services, and soon, together with Hotmail and Yahoo, introduced schemes for receiving feedback from recipients. So marketers were able to find out what people think about their letters, and use spam complaints as a metric . Later, Internet service providers introduced methods to protect customers from “spam” emails, and most of the spam stopped being delivered to the recipient.

    2003 year . IN USACan Spam Law appeared , which first settled commercial emails. In the same year in Europe, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations law was adopted, which defined the rules for permitting marketing communications.

    2004 year . The Sender Policy Framework (SPF) appeared , which allowed you to verify the authenticity of the sender and prevent spamming by controlling the IP addresses of senders.

    2007 . Launch of iPhone - Apple's First Smartphonewith the ability to view mail from a mobile. Up to this point, email support for custom smartphones has generally been limited. At the same time, owners of BlackBerry business smartphones from RIM got the opportunity to work in e-mail back in 2003.

    2009 year . Return Path reported that nearly 30% of commercial letters sent do not reach mailboxes. In the same year, Merkle said that low relevance was the main reason why users delete such emails without reading. And in this they were helped in every possible way by providers and creators of free email services. In the late 2000s, Internet service providers also introduced methods to protect customers from “unwanted” emails. As a result of these actionsspam mailing was gradually replaced by full-fledged email marketing : marketers realized that it was necessary to maintain the reputation of mailings, otherwise users would blacklist them or simply poison them in the basket. Letters have become timely and relevant to recipients.

    2012 year . 40% of marketing emails now open on mobile devices . This was facilitated by the development of mobile Internet - access to the network can now be obtained at any time, almost anywhere. As a result, marketers began to pay special attention to how their letters are displayed on a small screen.

    year 2012. Michael Persod case: A suspect from 2012 to 2015 used several IP addresses and domains to send spam on behalf of California-based Impact Media LLC, introducing himself as Michael Prescott, Michael Pearson and Jeff Martinez. A fraudster offered various goods and services, receiving commission from sellers for successful transactions . Retaliation overtook this California resident in 2016 when he was arrested by the FBI in his own home. A federal judge ordered Persod to pay $ 490,000 in compensation and more than $ 54,000 for non-pecuniary damage.

    2013 year . Dropbox acquired Mailbox, a promising startup that seemed to forever change the way people use email.thanks to the original interface and unusual at that time control via swipe. Two years later, the project was closed - as it turned out, at that time, users were not used to swipes and were not ready to change their usual mail programs.

    2014 year . Closing another startup. This time, Outbox did not live up to the developers' hopes. It was assumed that for only $ 5 a month, special people will digitize all your offline mail and send it to you over the network . The public accepted this unusual idea with great caution and it did not receive development.

    2018 year . General Data Protection Regulation enters into force in Europe(GDPR). The regulation of the European Union was intended to strengthen the protection of personal data of citizens of EU countries. The liability of companies that work with such data has increased significantly, and violation of the regulations threatens with large fines. This measure also helped streamline email marketing and put it on a more civilized footing.


    Email is one of the most effective and convenient means of communication. This technology, despite its considerable age, is not outdated, but has evolved into a useful and sometimes indispensable tool for users and an interesting tool for marketing. Both instant messengers and social networks significantly help marketers achieve their goals, but Email remains the leader in terms of consuming brand information and reliable communications. It is unlikely that this will change in the next decade, because mail services are also developing: new technologies appear, come up with more and more “chips” that will help e-mail in the future to remain a competitive means of communication.

    Finally, a few interesting facts that only confirm the above:

    • About 250 billion letters are sent every day. It is believed that approximately 60% of letters in the texts contain errors and typos.
    • According to Kaspersky Lab, in 2017, almost 57% of emails sent were spam.
    • Every day, an average ordinary office employee receives 121 letters and sends about 40.
    • 90% of users read mail from a smartphone. Moreover, smart watches are increasingly being used to read letters.
    • The average email user checks it about 15 times a day.
    • 26% of users check emails before getting out of bed, 69% while watching TV, 43% read letters in the bathroom, 32% while eating, 0% while reading Habr.

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