Even after almost five decades after its introduction, email is well established as a communication tool in everybody’s daily work and its intensity is actually even still increasing.

So it is no surprise that email marketing is getting a bit long in the tooth, but will continue to be amongst the most cost-efficient and popular communication tools, according to research from MarketTools, commissioned by Microsoft. Their study revealed just a few months ago that good old email will remain the dominant channel into the foreseeable future, despite the growth of social and mobile.

The research surveyed 1,268 professionals and students about their use of communication channels such as email, social media, mobile and instant messaging and found that, while social media and mobile messaging use is on the increase, email use increased the most.

In addition, MarketTools' research found that over the next five years, 96% of respondents expect their email use at work to increase (45%) or stay the same (51%), and almost the same number, 91%, expect their home email use to rise (36%) or remain the same (55%).

Email communication enjoys in particular great popularity when users want to send messages to multiple people at once (74%), want to have a written record of a conversation (73%) or have detailed information such as a document (65%).

Furthermore, many expect that the availability of more accurate, richer subscriber data, larger and more highly-targetable email lists, multi-list de-duplication capabilities, and improved subscriber segmentation technologies, and the like will lead to further increases in direct email marketing ROI.

Companies that fail to appropriately evolve their use of email as a marketing tool will be at a significant strategic and competitive disadvantage, most experts believe and all agree upon the fact that email will remain one of the cheapest available communications tools for some time to come. So take a look at the journey of email, by taking a look at Microsoft’s rather lengthy infographic, depicting the evolution of email since its introduction in 1965. You probably have already seen it, but as it provides a proper glimpse into the historical milestones of email, I am adding it here for you again:

Evolution of Email Infographic

(Source: Microsoft)

That’s all well and good, but it is in question if direct email marketing will continue as a worthwhile and profitable strategy for most companies in the future, considering the continuing exponential growth of unsolicited commercial emails.

Permission marketing is a mixed blessing as well. Since it has become main stream it is no longer the differentiator it used to be - neither for marketers nor users. Thus, in the future, only permission-based email campaigns that are able to achieve a high degree of “inbox visibility” will provide marketers with worthwhile positive ROI. Most probably only those that develop the competencies and relationships to implement strategies that separates them from the shifts in market dynamics at an early stage, will ultimately achieve a real competitive advantage.

So always keep up with changes and adapt your strategies to the quietly shifting currents that underpin the email marketing space!

By Daniela La Marca