Alexa… read my email
Some interesting news leading up to the holidays, when Alexa announced a bunch of new features in a recent update. One of those features allows users to ask Alexa to read their emails and reply to an email through voice. Among the many the reasons that email continues to be such an effective marketing and communication platform after 40 years, is that it has embraced technological advancements and adapted to significant changes, like the ability to include graphics, the rise of mobile, and personalization, among others. So, when we look back at email in another 10 years, will voice access be another key driver for the channel?
The answer today has to be – we’ll see. First off, will a significant number of people adopt this use way to access email? I can see how it might be useful if you don’t have your phone, aren’t in front of your computer, and still want to check your email. I’m not sure it is actually a more efficient means of accessing email than quickly scrolling and clicking – which seems like a faster way to deal with a large number of email messages. But, I would imagine that at least some percentage of Alexa users will find the feature useful and begin using it from time to time.
So, if it does gain enough adoption, what should email marketers do to address it, if anything? As with any change to the way people engage with email, it makes sense to at least consider how content could be changed to best take advantage of every user experience. With voice, it could mean even more consideration to subject lines. Some marketers like using emojis in their subject lines, these days. How will Alexa identify an emoji through audio? Will Alexa say “Don’t miss out on our best deal of the year… smiley face, smiley face, smiley face”? That might not be the best outcome for marketers.
How about the rest of the email content, for recipients who want to hear the entire message read to them? It should place even more focus on the text content and how well it delivers the key message with no visuals to support that messaging. It may require email marketers to develop their copywriting skills in the direction of audio script style content, while obviously not losing what drives more traditional email response.
Hearing is believing?
In some ways, hearing an email subject line or initial content read may be even more engaging to recipients, if the content is particularly compelling, audio may be more likely to grab attention than simple text. So, there are absolutely opportunities for this to empower email marketers to engage with customers even more than they can today.
It’s too early to say whether this feature will catch on with Alexa users and/or become available and popular with other virtual assistant programs. But, if it does, it’s safe to assume that email marketers will find ways to not only adapt to the changes, but take advantage of them.