There’s never been a better time to be a consumer. Technology is disrupting any and every business that’s not paying attention, and 89% of companies believe customer experience will be their primary basis for competition this year. This isn’t difficult to believe, either, when you consider just how easy it has become to do so many different things, like get from point A to point B, or to have the exact food you’re craving made for you and delivered to your door. The on-demand economy has taken “there’s an app for that” to the next level, and in the process, our role as consumers has changed.
Convenience has largely meant much less effort, which in many cases has also meant a lot less thinking. An example that comes to mind right away is Amazon Dash buttons, which take the shopping list, reminder methods, and hate-yourself moments out of your life.
With strategic placement and borderline ridiculous ease-of-use, remembering to buy __________ becomes a total non-issue. What a time to be alive.
But what’s next for consumers might surprise you. Email is the name of the game, despite that it’s “a decades-old medium that most haven’t associated with innovation since the golden age of AOL.” After all, isn’t that the quintessential MO of an industry that’s ripe for disruptive change? A McKinsey report in 2014 showed, contrary to popular belief, that email remains substantially more effective in customer acquisition than sexier social media platforms. To be exact, email marketing acquires 40 times more customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. And yet, email is still considerably in its infancy considering analytics are anything but robust– open and click-through rates are the extent of what marketers can gauge. But what else is there to really measure anyway?
That’s why companies like Rebelmail are betting on the future of email, spearheading big changes that can give businesses new and better ways to communicate with consumers. They’re creating a future in which emails are interactive and incorporate live data that you can really engage with. Think: an #IS6621 email within which you can take the weekly survey and see tweets that are live in the #IS6621 feed at the time that you’re viewing the email:
…or what I personally think is potentially the coolest thing ever: an email from your favorite retailer about a great deal that you can shop without leaving your inbox:
The cherry on top is that the benefits are double-sided. The less inertia required on the part of the consumer, the easier your job as a marketer. For consumers, in-email shopping lends itself to a seamless, hassle-free purchase experience. It’s a win-win.
The fact that there are many different email clients on desktop, web, and mobile, and that there are multiple versions (hello, parents still using Outlook 2003) certainly does not help. It means that development needs to be extremely heavy on testing. In fact, Cambridge-based Litmus automates that process for clients, taking screenshots of a test email in various combinations of email clients and operating systems. Giving consumers an incredible in-email experience is easier said than done, and messing up can mean a pretty big flop. When was the last time you were pleased by the sight of this?
(Intentional use of the image not found image. I know. Confusing.)
Plus, this is great news given the best scenario use case. Let’s not spend too much time thinking about bad emails, never mind bad emails with flashy interactive features. The ability to provide in-email shopping likens the email marketer to somewhat of a modern door-to-door salesman, and the idea of trusting him or her or the nearest algorithm to know your tastes and what you’ll actually want to buy is a little unnerving.
In any case, the consumer still has the power at the end of the day with the almighty “Unsubscribe” button. I have no doubt that bad email marketing that reeks of ruthless selling will be tossed in the unwanted pile without a second thought. Like I said, there’s never been a better time to be a consumer.
I’m curious to know— Would you make in-email purchases? What do you think the implications are for consumers and businesses?