ISPs are continually developing tools for their users. Some of the newer tools are automatic filters that help users organize the volumes of mail they’re getting. Gmail released Priority Inbox over a year ago. Hotmail announced new filters as part of Wave 5 back in October.
All of these announcements cause much consternation in the email marketing industry. Just today there was a long discussion on the Only Influencers list about the new Hotmail filtering. There was even some discussion about why the ISPs were doing this.
I think it’s pretty simple why they’re creating new tools: users are asking for them. The core of these new filters is ISPs reacting to consumer demand. They wouldn’t put the energy into development if their users didn’t want it. And many users do and will use priority inbox or the new Hotmail filtering.
Some people are concerned that marketing email will be less effective if mail is not in the inbox.
From a marketer’s standpoint, it is a challenge because we want to get our customers’ attention, and it is harder to do that if these messages are going into a separate box. Laura Santos
I think, though, a lot of email marketing (and direct marketing in general) relies on the consumer being lazy. That’s why negative options work so well. It’s not that the user is actually making a choice, it’s that they’re not making a choice, so the marketer chooses for them. In many cases the marketer controls the channel more than the target does.
This isn’t the case in email. Marketers don’t control the channel, the ISPs and end users do. This requires a shift in thinking in order to effectively use the channel.
I’m someone who filters all my newsletters to a non-standard inbox. I’ve done it for years now. It improves my workflow and actually means when I open that box I’m more receptive to the advertising. Folks sending me newsletters don’t get to interrupt me, they get my attention when I’m ready to give it to them.
I can see how this shift – from interruption based marketing to non-interruption based marketing can be difficult for marketers. It’s a new paradigm, one that is much more challenging than getting a lazy consumer to purchase.
Adapt or Die.