One way to build the future is to imagine it and then take the steps to make it happen. Let’s do the same with the micron-verse. Let’s look ahead a few years and see how brand-customer engagement has changed.
Each of us has a micronbox. It is built on email so it doesn’t necessarily need a new app or identity. This new inbox collates all the microns from our Gmail inbox and organises them better. No microns from a brand which we have not subscribed to make it through. Only a single email from a brand is present – older, unread mails get layered together into that single email. Thus, the micronbox only has as many emails as brands we subscribe to. Microns that we read are automatically deleted unless we choose to save them for future reference. (To elaborate: automatic deletion and especially only those emails getting saved which come from a conscious choice gives us and the brand added information – that people really care about this particular content; this is something that a simple open rate vs ignored will not capture.)
Microns are interactive. So, instead of just a static one-way communication, microns become dynamic and engaging. One can buy a book right from the micron itself, expand a new story to read more, provide feedback or answer questions – right from the inbox, without having to click through to the website. (The magic which makes this possible with emails is AMP.)
An element of gamification makes it fun. Customers/subscribers earn points for opening and engaging with microns. The more the continuing engagement, the better the rewards. (This is similar to what credit card companies offer – the more you spend, the more you earn. Basically, loyalty and discipline is being rewarded.) They also earn points by sharing information about themselves with brands so the communication they get is more personalised creating a mutual win-win. They can control what personal info they share with different brands. All this helps in increasing the signal-to-noise ratio in the inbox.
The micronbox is clutter-free. Instead of a ‘delete’ mindset when dealing with emails, there is a ‘delight’ feeling as we scan it. Brands have become friends whose messages are never ignored, read promptly and always acted on. Brands provide us useful info which make daily life better. They offer us what we need rather than what they want. They learn from our actions to make the relationship better daily with every interaction.
(Aside: This is the key and the core of a successful brand-customer relationship. The essence of a market economy – where businesses grow only by successfully meeting their customers’ need – at the lowest cost possible (else their competitors win). So if business in this sense is about meeting needs, a reinforcement of trust starts to happen between business and customer through microns – businesses promise to meet customers’ need and customers in turn provide the needed information/preferences.)
What has made the micronbox such a widespread global success is the fact that it is built on the email transport layer. Email is an open standard and allows anyone to publish via SMTP. We have control on the inbox and can use different email clients built using the IMAP protocol. This openness of standards continued with the micronbox – with one addition. The right to publish by a brand had to be matched with a subscription from the customer – only then is the communication channel established. The control is always with the subscriber who can decide to terminate the relationship at any point.