This is a guest post from Neil Capel, CEO of Sailthru, a New York-based startup that automatically tailors email, web and advertising content to the unique user.
I’ve always abided by the InboxZero principles: delete, delegate, respond, defer, and do. Anyone who has ever abided by these principle knows, though, that it’s becoming impossible to maintain. I barely have enough time to open all my emails, let alone categorize them. Time is valuable and because of that I default to the fastest action: deletion. I delete even faster when the email is from a brand that has repeatedly sent things that aren’t relevant to me.
It’s not that I don’t want to engage with brands. I’ll willingly admit that I’m a sucker for free shipping offers and a good discount. I’m signed up for more retail and content sites than I care to admit. But why do I receive email deals for pedicures on a daily deal site? And why do I keep getting updates about Kim Kardashian’s love life when I’ve neve rclicked on an article about her? (Okay, maybe once.)
Why? Because brands don’t respect me, my time or my inbox—at least that’s how it feels. I know the reality is different. Many brands think the more emails they send, the more money they make. And, to a certain extent, they’re right. Email has always been leveraged as a cos- effective and high ROI, direct response channel. But truth be told, in this socially-focused day and age, more mass emails means more opt-outs and trips to the SPAM folder. It means losing a key channel with which to communicate withcustomers. It means losing me, my trust and my business.
So I did the thing any serial entrepreneur would do. I created a business to help brandsbe relevant in a consumer’s inbox, on site, in app, and in ads through hyper-personalized, 1:1 content. The whole premise of Sailthru is that we help an e-tailer to know that I prefer to shop on my iPad and that I generally buy gifts for my wife, and that you like to buy sports equipment and read articles about skiing—and respond to both our unique interests accordingly.
Sending pertinent email deals, as well as serving good content recommendations onsite, in apps or in ads all create more engaged, loyal customers, build trust and tell the user that you respect them and their time. It’s that simple.
My delete finger is tired. But clearing email inboxes is a game for consumers andbrands alike. All consumers should adopt an email philosophy whether it’s InboxZero, a priority inbox or something else in order to keep up with ever-growing inboxes. The best brands will help them with this daunting task. And their customers or subscribers will recognize them for it with their clicks, page views and purchases. And I’ll finally feel like my inbox has gotten some respect.