How many times have you read a post claiming that ”email is dead”? A quick online search shows hundreds of articles all claiming this over the last few years, but email is still here. Will 2017 herald the sound of emails death knell?
Technology now allows us to be connected 24/7. With faster network speeds (both mobile and fixed), people now expect quick answers to queries and also to be able to send enquiries easily without searching for a contact address. This is also the same internally within organisations.
Slack, Microsoft and Facebook have realised this. Slack has been lauded as the fastest-growing B2B SaaS app since its launch in 2014. Workplace by Facebook was launched last October and less than a month later, Microsoft revealed a competitor called Microsoft Teams.
So seeing that Facebook and Microsoft have entered the game it is plain to see that chat is something that should be taken seriously. These chat-based apps allow companies to shift away from email communication internally, allowing for greater cross-silo communication. However, for chat to grow it also needs to be outward-focused, across enterprises.
Chat also enables collaboration outside your corporate network with partners, clients and suppliers. As business becomes more complex and decentralised, this sort of open architecture can really help things move faster between those that are working in separate companies.
Having this opportunity to instantly chat to a potential supplier or customer (on a platform that enables this) can streamline the purchasing process immensely. Questions are answered in real-time with the opportunity for marketing/sales materials to be shared instantly.
This quick communication even shortens the time it takes from initial connection to a RFP request (we’ve seen this at Koble) and there’s always the opportunity for post-purchase communication if necessary.
Chat apps on websites are also changing how companies will engage with their customers compared to how it was with email.
According to Geoff Ramsey, CIO, E-marketer.com: “What the internet, mobile, bots and all of these other things do is actually make it not just a two-way conversation – they actually tilt the power significantly toward the consumer”.¹
With Facebook awarding badges to companies that have a 90% response rate within 5 minutes to messages, Customers are increasingly expecting replies quicker.
Benji Shomair Director of Product Marketing, Pages, Facebook: “In the messaging ecosystem, when people are thinking about making the transaction, they’re finding this channel is a really valuable way to help with their questions, clarifications and availability”.²
If you’re relying only on email you could be losing these customers.
Does email have the legs to stand up to this? We think so, but it will be a challenge. Today there are over 2.6 billion email users worldwide (including both business and consumer users) and this figure is expected to grow to over 3.0 billion by year-end 2020.³ But the lack of instant response time that email has does not help, especially when we’re moving towards an instant gratification culture.
Technology is changing as well, Chat apps that allow you to share more than just text updates (such as images, videos and other files) are amassing huge user numbers. We also predict that B2B apps that have chat capabilities will also be more prevalent in the near future.
As the above figures show, email will still be a part of the day-to-day life in Business for certain types of communication in the years to come. And we think that email will still survive in 2017, but slowly and surely Chat apps are creeping up behind it to deliver the final blow and we don’t think there’s anything email can do about it.
In short, it’s a case of not now…. but when?