The future has long had an interest in marketing, email and otherwise. Since the end of the second world war, much of science fiction has envisaged the soaring flight of capitalism – to the point we are now anaesthetised to the images.
Those amongst us who read avidly will be nodding and thinking of Orwell’s 1984, Collins’ The Hunger Games or Anderson’s Feed. For those who prefer film, there are the swooping digital billboards of I-Robot, or the more intrusive retina scanning of Minority Report. Marketing takes its place within the nightmare. Slinks into the environment of the dystopia, and in many cases is the hyper-functioning heartbeat of an oppressive future.
I realise I am beginning to sound like a Netflix Original Series trailer – but it doesn’t hurt to think of the future.
I recently came across a interesting article written called ‘Alexa, predict the future of email’ written by Mike Ragan. This article was a celebratory glance into a future, where digital assistants such as Alexa, are more integral to the marketing strategy. Looking at a time when “Alexa chips in unprompted and it is genuinely welcomed”, Ragan elatedly believes we would have made progress.
Perhaps he is right. Human’s have developed an uncanny knack at building meaningful connections to their machines that we have almost literally become cyborgs. Our interactions and connectivity to technology are deep and resistant, and in turn have governed many of our interactions with other humans. In short, Ragan’s inferences are entirely possible. There is every chance that we will upload our trust, and install a modicum of reliance upon digital assistants, and this could carve many futures for email marketing.
Tell me what I want Alexa…
If Facebook can tell me what guitar offers there are in a shop less than five miles away from me, and Google can pipe up and tell me – as I enter the murky heights of Liverpool – the best place to order food, then imagine the cataclysmic effect of email marketing being read to you in your own home. Alexa cherry picks through the emails in your box, clued-in to your buying habits, your preferences, the things on your various wish-lists and bang! Alexa interrupts with: “Sorry Adam, you have an email here from Attitude clothing. I know you were looking for Jeans the other day, and there are some scorching offers on this email. Do you want to hear?”
Of course we do!
Imagine the emails we will write, knowing that Alexa – or her inevitable many offspring – will be reading these aloud to the recipient as they potter around their living dusting their ornaments. It could be a dream for content writers who may be able to write short anecdotes and stories that entertain in the same way that radio jingles and television adverts do. It unlocks the potential for creativity as we once again dare to use humour and other persuasive creative literary techniques that have long fallen to the wayside so as to make way for a direct time-saving, and telling style.
And so it begins
It might seem a little far-fetched – a little bit Terminator meets the marketing department, but the digital assistant is already beginning to emerge on the fringes of email marketing.
In his article ‘Alexa, How Is My Email Campaign Doing?’, Dave Charest talks about the “new Constant Contact skill available for Amazon Alexa”. A skill wherein the user simply asks Alexa for the analytics and metrics of the last email campaign they have sent out. Not only that, Alexa can compare your click-through rates to the average rates across various industries, and of course Alexa is not shy when asked for a marketing tip.
Of course, and as Mike Ragan similarly points out, there will be the contingencies of Email Armageddonists who will rise up and claim that the end is nigh for email marketing – that these digital assistants will somehow cut the most effective form of digital marketing from the leaderboard, for how long can email really last?
Social media couldn’t kill the email.
The mobile couldn’t kill the email.
Alexa won’t kill the email.
The email has a way of surviving, of adapting. I agree with Kim Courvoisier’s sentiment, as she describes in almost Darwinian terms that “The reason email has been able to thrive is its ability to engage, connect and most of all, evolve.”
Is Alexa a good thing? I am not alone in analysing that she spells out excellent things for email, and I am pretty sure someone is already looking at the ways that email and Alexa can be firm bedfellows. Taking my cynical approach to dystopia and science fiction out of the picture, the digital assistant is subtly providing a new approach for the digital marketer – a more direct approach. The digital assistant is something to keep your eyes on, whether you are an email marketer, a social media manager, or an all-rounder. The future is here.