Why email is bad for business

We owe a lot to email. As the trusty channel that delivered us into the 21st century, email has been by our side (and at our fingertips) through thick and thin. Not to mention the inspiration for some quality ’90s romantic comedies (I’m looking at you, You've Got Mail). But email’s long-standing reign as the be-all and end-all business channel is coming to a close. The silo-prone and slow nature of email has made it notoriously inefficient for client and internal interactions alike.

As our workplace conversations move toward more agile channels, like chat and messaging, the flaws of email are becoming more and more apparent. Bottom line: email can’t keep up with the pace and complexity of today’s work environment. If you’re still using email to hold down the fort, stay tuned. We’re breaking down exactly why email is bad for business.

It’s one-dimensional.

Email wasn’t designed for cross-collaboration. Private threads and limited visibility provide the perfect conditions to breed silos. One forgotten CC address can quickly bury information deep within email replies, leaving everyone in the dark. Even with only two parties involved, searching for answers in an email chain can feel like cracking the Da Vinci code. It makes for a weak to-do list and a hefty waste of time.

Email has been weaponized.

Both companies and clients need secure channels to talk shop. Between malicious links, phishing, and ransom attacks, email is no longer a safe place for business. Firms handling sensitive client information (like bank data and social security numbers) are especially vulnerable to cyber threats. Unfortunately, these low-cost, high-reward crimes are increasing by the day. Phishing attacks alone jumped by 60% in 2018. Cybercriminals know that it’s impossible for users to catch every malicious email that hits their inbox. Even just one successful attack out of a million emails is a win for the bad guys.  

It lacks immediacy.

Slow response times are baked into the email experience. This lack of urgency and “I’ll get to it later” mentality has given way to the infamous “URGENT” subject line. Communication needs to happen in real time; anything short of this is bad for business. When you compare email to real-time avenues like chat and in-app messaging, email begins to feel a lot like snail mail.

More than 60% of business emails aren’t replied to.

  • The Radicati Group. “Email Statistics Report, 2015-2019”

It’s dated.

Email is a bit old school. With the rise of new channels, email is getting left in the dust. Quicker channels allow conversations to unfold organically, leading to a more genuine experience and stronger relationships. With more channels to choose from, people are checking their inboxes less and less. Realistically, anyone who really matters to you will call, text, or drop you a line on social media — not email you. As we move toward these more intuitive channels of communication, email is left as the repository for junk mail and second-class relationships.

It’s full of spam.

Our inboxes are riddled with junk. Of the nearly 300 billion emails sent last year, only 38% were deemed important. From the latest BOGO sale to automated travel reminders, the inbox is a distracting place for business. It’s all too easy for important messages to slip through the cracks and personal touches to get lost in the noise. Handling client communication solely through email isn’t doing your clients (or your customer experience) any favors.

While we don’t expect email to retire anytime soon, its benefit to the business world is in decline. To protect your data, move at the speed of business, and provide top-notch customer experience, platforms with secure channels and real-time messaging are a must.

About the Author

Chris Farrell is co-founder and CEO of Liscio. He’s a seasoned technology executive with more than 20 years of leadership experience in finance and accounting. Chris served as the CEO of Nexonia, Inc., the parent company of the Nexonia, Tallie, ExpenseWatch, and SpringAhead brands. His experience as a founder of Tallie and SpringAhead gives Liscio a proven leader with a successful track record scaling up startup technology platforms for professional services. Chris earned his CPA in the heart of Silicon Valley at Arthur Andersen in 1996 and his MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management in 2004.