Email is what Netcore has excelled at over the past 20 years. We had started by setting up Linux-based email servers for corporate customers (as an alternative to the very expensive Microsoft Exchange). A decade later, around 2007-8, we launched an email marketing platform for companies who needed to do mass mailing to their subscribers. A few years later, we added an email API service. Through the years, email has powered Netcore’s growth. Today, Netcore is amongst the top 5 global email platforms, delivering over 10 billion emails a month for its enterprise customers.
Even with the rise of alternate communication and interaction channels (SMS, WhatsApp, push notifications on mobile apps), email’s charm has stayed. For many, their email address is their identity. With the mobile number, the email address is the only other universal option which allows a business to communicate to its customers. The ability to ‘push’ messages direct to an inbox is what makes email so attractive. Of course, this ease has also come with abuse – as spam has risen through the years. Consumer email service providers like Gmail have also risen to the challenge to ensure as clean an inbox as possible.
The alternatives – SMS and WhatsApp – don’t have the same advantages that email has. SMS in India costs almost 10 times that of email. (The SMS inbox is now filled with spam that is very hard to control.) WhatsApp has many constraints for businesses seeking to engage with their customers and is nearly 30 times more expensive than email. The humble email still wins hands down – in terms of cost and convenience.
Email-based communications from businesses is what fills our inbox. Most are long with many different clickable options. At times, we read and act. But many times, we just ignore. This is where I began to wonder – could the ideas that made MyToday SMS a success be applied to email? Short emails that can be read in just a few seconds and which subscribers actually looked forward to. The religious quote (“voice of God”) in the morning, the joke in the evening, the news and market updates during the day, a bedtime story or poem, the health tip, the factoid I did not know – all curated and delivered to my inbox. Without me having to wade through zillions of Twitter noise or website pop-up ads. Simple, clean messages readable in a few seconds that inform and educate.
While we could create a number of such content channels, the brand opportunities were also significant. I would love to get nutritional messages from Amul, health tips from Cipla, gadget updates and usage tips from Samsung, book excerpts from Penguin, OTT recos from Netflix, short news explainers from Indian Express, and more – and I would willingly give my email ID to brands to communicate with me. “Keep them short – and I will give you each 15 seconds of my attention daily.”
And thus was born the idea for the new MyToday – via email.
Tomorrow: Part 4