Email users can now access and manage their inboxes with voice commands. They only need to connect to their email service, be it Gmail, Outlook or another service, through the Alexa app, and ask her to “check my email.” Alexa seems to be able to do everything but compose and send new messages.
“Email marketers should pay attention to this update,” says Greg Sterling, contributing editor at Search Engine Land, noting that Google Home will probably soon follow Amazon’s example. “If this should gain widespread adoption it would put more pressure on marketer’s email subject lines and copy.”
Others believe the public will embrace voice-enabled email, though the system may require some effort to learn. More than 43 million Americans own a smart speaker, according to Edison Research, and 1.3 billion people worldwide live with some form of vision impairment, according to the World Health Organization.
How Email Marketers Can Learn to Love Alexa for Email
Anthony Chiulli, director of product marketing a 250ok, explains how marketers can keep their email marketing humming.
Focus on the subject line. Subject lines must be more compelling than ever because email subscribers will be able to access – and delete – emails without seeing the text and image of the message body.
Reconsider emoji. The icons will lose power. “Face with Tears of Joy” has less impact than the emoji itself.
No no-reply addresses. Alexa allows users to reply with a simple voice command. Replace no-reply email addresses with an actively monitored address that encourages recipients to reply and converse with the sender.
Improve preheaders. Because Alexa reads the preheader text, the summary immediately after the subject line, marketers should place the text before most other priorities.
Sound out subject lines. What works on a screen doesn’t always translate well when read aloud.
Don’t rely on visuals. Images can improve email messages, but not when read aloud. Avoid image-heavy messages and seek “ear-catching” descriptive text within the email itself.
Test and test. As with all new email marketing tactics, testing improves ultimate success. “Grab your own Alexa, send yourself an email, and see what it sounds like when read by your trusty voice assistant,” Chiulli says.
Email Marketing will Survive
Marketers may worry that subscribers will access and delete emails without first seeing the message’s body text and images. In short, they wonder if Alexa will kill email marketing. It won’t, asserts internet marketing expert John W. Hayes. It will be business as usual for marketers who follow best practices.
“The key is to avoid deletion and encourage future engagement by optimizing your subject lines and including clear and instructive text in your campaigns,” Hayes states. “Good email marketers should be doing this already.”
Bottom Line: Alexa’s new ability to open, read and delete emails may change email marketing practices. Although some fear Alexa will kill email marketing, marketers who speak to customers’ needs and interests will maintain a welcome place in their inboxes.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.