Alexa's latest feature email marketerCan you feel the rumble on the ground?  There has been a disturbance in the force.  It won’t be long before someone announces that “email is dead”.  Again!  They are pulling out the email marketing’s coffin again over Amazon’s announcement last Monday.  Alexa’s latest feature is certainly going to change things for the email marketer.

The future is here, it is time to sit up and take note. We knew it was coming, so we should be better prepared.

Amazon have rolled out the long-awaited email reading feature to Alexa.  She can read a summary of your new and important messages.  Greg Sterling from Marketing Land road-tested the new features, describing how “Alexa will read the sender and subject line”, and then the option to read, reply, delete or archive is presented.  Judging by the various reviews on the feature, the function works incredibly well.

But lets be honest!  With the research and talent available to Amazon, even if there were temperamental bugs in that system, then it won’t be long before those kinks would be ironed out.

But the purpose of this article isn’t to test out a feature that will already be the talk of many digital assistant owners.  The arrival of such an important feature means that marketing, once again, has to react to ever-evolving technology.  The future is happening now. And, although we aren’t at the self-lacing-sneakers and hoverboards stage, this new feature will revolutionise email marketing.

Bringing writers back to the table since 2018

Alexa’s latest feature creates an opportunity to return to excellent writing.  With the digital assistant’s increase in popularity, more and people will be asking Alexa to read them their email.

As Greg Sterling’s review pointed out, the images in an email aren’t shown by the digital assistant.  Not even on an Echo Show.  Although this doesn’t entirely render images redundant, it certainly puts the emphasis on copy.  Furthermore, since Alexa only reads out the sender and the subject line, that killer line is all the more important.  Not only are you writing a subject line that will look good on a screen, it now has to sound good when spoken.

In some ways, there is an element of stepping back involved in this progress.  Instead of creating an entirely new way of writing, we have to turn our attention back to origins of advertising media. Just like writing jingles for the radio, or scripts for the television.  Alexa, might just make story and narrative compulsory for email marketers.  Marketing needs to invest much more of its time in training imaginative and creative writers.

Alexa’s latest feature will separate the literate wheat from the chaff.

Nobody is going to want to listen to droning, drab content.

Alexa-ready email marketing platforms

According to Sarah Perez‘ article 47.3 million U.S. adults have access to a smart speaker, report says, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the US own, or have access to a digital assistant such as Alexa.  With already 20% of our audience owning equipment that can deliver news, play music, and now read their emails it will be time for email marketing software to make modifications.

With analytics, sooner or later, will have to include digital assistants.  Considering the entire format will be changed by digital assistants, inbox testing features will also have to include audio outlets to test how the email sounds upon delivery.

The popularity of digital assistants cannot be ignored.  As the popularity of products such as Alexa rise, the technology we have created to be build platforms will need to evolve and adapt to the new structures demanded of them.

Segmenting Alexa’s latest feature

In the near future, it is too early to suggest – or even predict – that imagery based emails will be a thing of the past.  Although 20% of adults is a high percentage, there are still 80% of adults that are still reading their emails the old fashioned way.  Good visuals are still important, and navigation to the website and various pages is highly recommended.  Yet within the body of a text, if all words are read out by the digital assistant, things like navigation and “view-in-browser” links will be unnecessary content.

Email marketers therefore will have to include digital assistants within their targeting and segmentation.

It will be a simple enough process that means a text only email will be sent to those who like the dulcet tones of Alexa reading out their emails.  Conversely, the rest of the recipients who still open their emails laptops and phones, will still require the images and navigation.  This makes it all the more important that email marketing software packages to include google assistants in their reporting.

Wrapping up: Bring on the future

Technological advances have a way of snowballing.  Technology such as mobile phones and laptops have long surpassed being technological novelty.  This sort of tech is now ingrained in our entire lives.  We interact with them socially, we include them in our biggest events.  They are tools for working with, and media outlets enabling us to relax with them.  Digital assistants may not have become a mandatory element in our social existence yet.  But they are set to be ingrained into our culture over the next five to ten years.

It is hard to say with any certainty exactly how important Alexa’s latest feature will become.  The majority of people may still choose to react to emails on the go.  Using their phones and portable technology does seem to be a lot neater than waiting until you get home to hear what emails you have received through the day.  However, we cannot ignore the sudden rise and implementation of the technology in our homes entirely.  If this truly is the future, then what opportunities will Alexa’s newest addition open up.

Imagine creating templates with music and sound effects instead of PNGs and HTML.  That sounds idyllic and straight from the realms of science fiction.  Yet, Alexa is going to put the emphasis on content and audio.  It will be interesting to see where this line ends, and surely soon Google’s digital assistant will follow up with a similar feature.

What differences do you feel that this technology will make to digital marketing?  Please feel free to comment below with your own opinions.