Facts to Impress Your Friends and Family for National Email Week

Posted by Alex Weltman on

It’s finally here, and almost over!  While unfortunately unknown to many, National Email Week occurs during the second week of June, and is my second-favorite week of the year (after Shark Week, of course!) In honor of this holiday, I’d like to share some of the most interesting facts about email, and expose some of the history of the technology on which this week is based.

  1. Mass Communication: We send a LOT of emails, racking up an average of 250 – 300 BILLION emails a day worldwide.  That’s about half the number of text messages sent daily (600 billion), almost the number of Facebook Chat messages sent per day (400 billion), and almost 1000 times the number of tweets tweeted daily (400 million).
  2. The Money’s in the Message: Retailers send subscribers an average of 16 emails per month during “busy” months.  Only 20% of these emails are actually opened, but an overwhelming percent of people (77%) prefer marketing messages via email, as opposed to other mediums. 
  3. Welcome to Spamalot: The word “spam” originates from an old Monty Python sketch, but today there’s nothing funny about it.  A whopping 90% (read: ALMOST ALL) emails are spam.  This may seem like it merely amounts to a minor annoyance, but spam can actually cost businesses as much as $20 million annually. 

The first spam email was sent on May 3rd, 1978.  The DECSYSTEM-2020 and TOPS-20 new computer and operating system, had just been released.  To advertise the new technology, a DEC marketer, sent out a message about the computer to 600 ARPANET (a precursor to the Internet) users.  The message was not well received, and another commercial mass email was not sent for several years.

  1. The Wrath of Khan: Mass amounts of spam are sent by botnets, or networks of computers where the owner of the computer is unaware that the computer is forwarding spam.  The first botnet was created by spammer Khan C. Smith, who was exposed in August, 2001, when Earthlink, the third largest Internet service provider at the time, filed a lawsuit against him. 

“Smith used dummy Web sites and domain names to send spam promising free credit reports or free Internet service, but in order to get the free goods, users would be asked to submit a credit card number, password or other personal information to secure their new account.”

It turned out that Smith was responsible for 25% of the spam sent at the time, and Earthlink won $25 million from the lawsuit.

According to the Atlanta Business ChronicleOn December 16th, 2003, president George W. Bush signed into law the CAN-SPAM Act, which created restrictions on content that can be included in unsolicited marketing emails.  However, it is sometimes referred to as the “YOU-CAN-SPAM” Act because of its inability to prevent spam.

Hope you had a great end to National Email Week, and as they say at Return Path, National Email Week is every day.


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