Making It Happen
There are 3 entities that will be needed to bring Email2 to life at scale and with sustainable success:
- ARCo, the Atomic Rewards Company, which is the entity which manages the rewards
- Progency, the product-led agency which offer an end-to-end performance-driven solutions
- LoyCo, the Loyalty company, which could typically be the ESP itself
ARCo manages the pan-brand points which drives the gamification in Email2. It needs to be across brands because no single brand engagement can create enough engagement and points to make it attractive for customers. ARCo thus creates the attention token (let’s call it Mu – µ), sells it to brands for a price (let’s say 10 paise per µ), and then runs a Mu Shop for customers to redeem their earned µ. ARCo will also need to maintain the Mu Ledger – showing each customer how they earned and spent their µ.
ARCo should borrow ideas from the loyalty programs run by airlines. As The Economist wrote recently in an article explaining how the loyalty programs have become more valuable than some of the airlines themselves: “Airlines once hoped simply to foster loyalty by offering customers freebies. Passengers collected miles as they travelled and were awarded a free flight once they racked up enough of them. But schemes today are far more sophisticated. Airlines profit by selling miles to credit-card firms at a price that exceeds the cost of providing reward flights and dishing out other perks, such as hotel stays. They also gain when miles expire unused or are cashed in for something of poor value … Credit-card issuers in turn use miles to lure customers with bonuses. Airline-affiliated cards tend to rake in much more in transactions a year than other cards. Many miles are therefore earned not in the air, but through card spending on the ground.”
The key for ARCo is to ensure that the value perceived by customers in items available in the Mu Shop is significantly greater than the cost. For airlines, this can be a 100X difference: points worth Rs 10,000 for a ticket may cost the airline just Rs 100 in the form of a meal.
Progency can help marketing teams of brands drive the Email2 program as a parallel track to all their regular activities. [I have written earlier about the Progency idea.] With the Hooked Score as the metric, the progency can be paid based on its performance in increasing the Hooked Score. As I mentioned earlier, two possible starting programs for the progency can be retention for branding and reactivation.
Email2 also needs a LoyCo, a loyalty company, who can bring it all together. The ESP is the ideal entity to house the LoyCo. An ESP could offer free Mu to attract senders – exactly the way airlines offer miles to attract frequent travellers. The advantage for the ESP will be the loyalty of sending brands in an otherwise commoditised market.
While ARCo will probably need to be independent, next-gen ESPs could combine the LoyCo and Progency to offer a one-stop solution to brands to grow their email engagement. The innovations we have discussed to energise engagement in the form of Email2 (AMP, Ems and Microns) offer a disruptive opportunity for new ESPs to shake up the old order.