Building the Hotline Right (Part 10)

Brands in My Life

Here is a thought exercise with the brands that I engage with. How could they build hotlines to me and how could I engage with them?

Let’s start with the media brands. Most of them send out email newsletters. The goal is to bring us to their website or app so our attention can be monetised with ads. In recent years, they have also started subscriptions but the ads continue to remain a dominant revenue stream. The newsletters today offer a list of headlines to click on. The only change in the past decade or so is some degree of personalisation based on either what I have been reading or the preferences I set when I created my account. Three changes could make the newsletters come alive: a “top headlines” section which fetches the main stories dynamically when I open the email rather than being constructed when the newsletter was created, a “search” box within the email, and a “comments” box which lets me give feedback right inside the email. In fact, some new and interesting comments could even be surfaced with the story headline when I open the email.

The OTT brands could allow me to do a 1-click add right inside the email, and perhaps even edit my watchlist. In fact, some Indian OTT brands don’t even send emails – preferring push notifications. I think that’s a mistake because many of their subscribers may have switched off notifications in which case the brand has no communication channel.

Some brands like Raymond or ASIC where the purchase cycles are less frequent will need to figure out ways to make the hotline alive during the non-engagement zone. They could send out “Ems” (short informative emails which can be consumed in 15 seconds or so) with tips on their category. Or ask customers to share photographs with their products in return for rewards. The goal is to be top-of-mind when the time for the next purchase comes.

Hypercasual games would be fun to add as part of the hotlines to drive engagement. So, instead of me going to the Wordle page daily, could the Wordle play be done inside of the email? Could I create my own Wordle and share it with friends in groups to see who can guess it first?

Book publishers could also set up a hotline with me after I purchase a book. (They have no idea today – having always relied on intermediaries for sales.) They could send suggestions on new books, online events with the author, latest tweets by the author. I could send back some of my favourite passages from the book – in return for rewards or an opportunity to participate in an exclusive interaction with the author.

eGrocery marketplaces could make ordering trivially simple with the use of the hotline – almost as easy as me calling up the kirana store owner. Some of it is just the use of AMP within an email, but the comfort of having a 2-way relationship where someone is actually listening on the other side can be comforting.

On a personal note, as a WordPress blogger, I could add a comments “AMPlet” inside of the email that goes out to all who have subscribed to my updates. This is much better than having to go to my blog and login to control the spam.

These are just some starting ideas. It is up to each brand to creatively think of the possibilities. Listening to customers and readers is a great way to get feedback, engage and co-create new products. The Email 2.0 and omnichannel hotline is an important leap forward to bring that future to life.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.

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