Businesses use email for three primary reasons: internal company communication, marketing to customers and customer support. Email is an important part of business communication because of its speed, low cost and ability to send a message to a small handful of people or scale up to millions.
For internal company communications, email improves speed, accuracy, documentation and the ability to follow complex issues over time. Time can be wasted when recipients who are not required are copied in on emails, but it is generally agreed that email is quicker overall for business communication compared to meetings or phone calls.
Email was invented in 1972, and in 1978, the first ever marketing email was sent asking recipients to attend an open house to view computers for sale. Marketing emails have expanded to the point that the term "spam" is easily recognized as unwanted email communication. The cost is so low for companies to send emails that it only requires a small percentage of recipients to respond to make it cost effective.
By moving to email communication for customer service issues, companies can save time and money. The first savings come with the customer having to document what he wants from the company, which is much faster to read for the company than listening to a phone call. Second, the company can hire lower-cost employees whose language may not be sufficient on the phone but is acceptable for email. Finally, the company can staff or outsource the work more easily because emails can be handled when resources are available rather than when the customers call.