Pretty much anyone with an email account has a love/hate relationship with emails. We coordinate our weekend plans there. We get our daily deals there. It is where we conduct business. It is where our shopping receipts are sent. Yet, we are so overwhelmed by them that “inbox zero” is an event worth celebrating. Famous venture capitalist Fred Wilson declares email bankruptcy regularly.
At the early days of Visual Revenue, we had heated debates on whether we should implement an email feature. We would send out a daily email summarizing our customers’ site data from yesterday. On one hand, we didn’t want to be part of the “problem” of overloading people’s inbox. On the other, email was where many of our customers consume their data. We decided to build it and test the responses. By the time when Visual Revenue was acquired, our daily summary email was the third most used feature in the platform. Quite a few users signed up for our platform just so they can receive the summary emails. In the rare occasion when we had a data issue and email summary was paused, our account managers were guaranteed to get calls. Email can provide tremendous value. It doesn’t have to end in bankruptcy.
I have seen countless productivity startups trying to “solve” email by moving it to some different platforms, hoping to change people’s day to day workflow. That’s not the right approach. A recent report from Experian Marketing Services showed that email volume in the second quarter of 2013 rose by 17.9% compared with the same period last year. Open rates were up 7.2%.
Email is here to stay. We should embrace both the beauty and pain of emails. Instead of looking for ways to get rid of them, let’s make them more productive.