For the most part, only two actions have been possible with marketing emails: open and click. Open rates have tended to be around 10% — meaning 9 out of 10 emails are being ignored by recipients. These recipients are actually opt-in customers: they voluntarily gave their email IDs to brands at some point of time to receive communications. And yet, somewhere down the line, that bond was broken (or weakened) with the result that a “delight” mindset ended up turning into “delete”. All the creativity pouring into email design is useless if 9 of 10 customers are not going to even open the emails.
One reason why emails are not opened is that they do not land in the primary inbox and instead are routed to the promotions folder, which is rarely checked by consumers. This decision is algorithmically made by the inbox providers like Gmail and Yahoo. Intended to counter spam, it also ends up categorising many genuine marketing emails as spam with the result that most recipients never see them. So, it becomes a cat-and-mouse game to figure out how to get past the algos and get emails into the primary inbox.
Innovations like BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification), STO (Send Time Optimisation) and SLO (Subject Line Optimisation) are ways to improve delivery and visibility of emails. But these are still incremental. What marketing emails need is a complete upgrade – like what Apple’s iPhone did to mobiles. I believe that this can happen by combining three ideas that I have previously discussed individually (AMP, Ems and Microns) into a single package called Email2. AMP makes emails interactive, Ems brings useful information, and microns offer incentives (“atomic rewards”) for specific actions. Email2 can craft a completely new experience for recipients in their inbox, and thus drive attention, engagement and habit creation, all of which are upstream of transactions.
A new metric – Hooked Score – can measure the effectiveness of emails at an individual level, and thus marketers can track the improvement in engagement over time. Email2 will also need three new entities – ARCo (the entity which manages the Atomic Rewards), Progency (the product-led agency which can offer an end-to-end performance-driven solution), and LoyCo (the loyalty company, typically the ESP itself). Together, they can deliver on the 3 Rs of Martech – retention, reactivation, and referrals. Over time, the same innovations can be expanded to other push channels (SMS and push notifications) to ensure that more brand messages are seen and acted on than ignored, thus reducing “message waste”.
For brands to sell, their messages need to be seen. Email2 is the way to make that happen. By switching focus from transactions and money to attention and time, Email2 can energise engagement between brands and their existing customers, and become one of the key pillars for the coming martech era and the subscription economy.