Archive for August, 2008

Email marketing and next-generation email apps

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

CRN reported that a recent Marshal poll showed 29% of their sample bought something from a spam email.  I’m skeptical of that number, but whatever, spam and more respectable direct email marketing aren’t going away anytime soon. 

The DMA Email Marketing Blog recently posted pondering the impact artificial intelligence and related technologies in email will have on e-mail marketing.  They reference two Outlook plugins that are giving users new ways to look at their email, Xobni and my company, ClearContext.

I think that there’s a big opportunity for next-generation email apps to not only help get rid of unwanted email marketing, but to also help highlight email marketing messages that are relevant and wanted.  ClearContext is not the only one interested in email prioritization, though we have some of the deepest experience and best understanding in the marketplace of how email prioritization impacts users in their day-to-day usage of email.  Most people don’t use prioritization as an absolute guide to how they process email, but instead as an indicator for classes and groups of emails that they want to initally focus their attention on and which ones to completely ignore.  In that first phase of email triage, smart technology can learn which classes of marketing email people actually care about.

Another advancement in email is understanding the nature of different types of emails and putting them in the appropriate context.  The inbox is one big  bucket where all email is handled the same way.  But many people don’t want to deal with marketing emails while they are focused on getting their work done.  On the other hand, they very well might want to see what discounts they have been sent from stores they frequent before doing some shopping online or heading to the mall.  That’s where features like our Notification Managers can be used to automatically send entire classes of email like retail marketing messages into a specific area, perhaps categorized by retailer. Instead of frustrating people and getting deleted or unsubscribed from, these messages can be put in a context where people can get real value from them at the appropriate time.

A couple of commenters write that email marketers can succeed by "delivering useful, targeted content and offers on a regular basis" and that "relevance will dictate if an email is read or not."  I think those comments are right on the money.  The right next-generation email technology might banish unwanted direct marketing emails, but if done right, it will also identify and help people utilize the marketing emails that are actually relevant and valuable to them.


Friday, August 15th, 2008

I’m excited to be participating in the Defrag conference this year.  It’s Nov 3-4 in Denver.  Here’s some more about the conference.  There’s a really interesting group of people at Defrag – all involved in figuring out innovative ways to deal with the varied set of challenges faced due to a constantly shifting technology landscape and an always-increasing sea of information.  Eric Norlin has pulled together a diverse group of people in a format that allows plenty of time for deeper discussion than most conferences have.  The agenda features a bunch of great speakers and topics. I’m on a panel discussing "Fixing Foundational Information Channels" with a group of people working on better ways to share, present, and consume information. If you have ideas for interesting areas of discussion for that panel, please comment – I’m hoping we can go a level further than much of the common discussion in these areas that revolves largely around incremental changes to existing applications and platforms.

For anyone interested in attending, today (Aug 15) August 31 is the last day for early bird registration prices.  You can get another $100 off by entering "dh1" as a discount code here.  I hope some of you are able to make it to the conference, and I look forward to brainstorming on some good discussion topics in advance of the event.