“Alexa, predict the future of email”
I’m sorry Mike, I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Okay, so maybe not right now, maybe not even 2018, but soon. As digital assistants begin to live in our homes, know all about us and plot to take over the world, we might not read as much, including email — but we will listen.
“Alexa, read me my emails” [instruction]
“Alexa, read my last email from Brand X” [Alexa can do more]
“Alexa, tell me any good offers in my inbox”. [Alexa knows what I like]
That’s a fairly linear ascension, but soon becomes:
“Excuse me, Mike The Magnificent, I know you are talking about buying a new pair of shoes. Did you know you received a great offer from your favourite shoe shop the other day? You really should treat yourself once in a while, you handsome devil. The last time you bought shoes was over a year ago.” [Alexa’s input and influence as welcomed as it is devastatingly effective]
As soon as a meaningful relationship is established with your own personal digital assistant, and you don’t think it’s a creepy listener and a glorified bunch of IF statements, then things might just get interesting for us as email marketers.
The best practice drum will come out again and the enlightened amongst us already making emails as accessible as possible will have a head start. The plain text, inbox SEO & deliverability bros will make their cases. And obviously all the “email is dead” gang will rise up, saying our silent movies can’t beat the talkies. But people will still engage, and crucially email will span across the visual and aural domain. Email’s a survivor. It’s going to make it. It will work harder.
Copywriters will rejoice, as making things sound human becomes soup du jour (that means soup of the day, Rodney). Could it become story telling? Or will it become a keyword hellscape? How will competition for ears compare with eyeballs? That will be interesting to find out.
When Alexa chips in unprompted and it is genuinely welcomed, then we will have turned another corner. I for one welcome our future digital assistant overlords, and their ability to unlock more of email’s potential.
Part of the “404 words” series — commentaries that are targeted to be ~404 words. Follow me on Twitter: @mike_ragan