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Technology

Humble newsletter yet to be fully tapped

Businesses seem to have defaulted to the use of
Businesses seem to have defaulted to the use of SMS to engage with their customers or carry out marketing and research. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It is hard to imagine not having an email address or a mobile phone number. These two open access to information, products, and services through internet, voice and messaging. Not many platforms allow for anonymous access to community or resources without the use of one or both of these mediums of identification.

Businesses seem to have defaulted to the use of SMS to engage with their customers or carry out marketing and research. Lately, SMS has come under fire, stemming from the abuse of the medium with rising complaints to the telcos and regulators on the deluge of unsolicited messaging received daily by consumers. Having traditionally enjoyed stellar statistics on delivery and open rates consumers are starting to get desensitised and conversion on the calls to action dwindling.

Surprisingly, email has been largely been ignored or used in the most basic of ways with little or no net positive effect for businesses. Not that it does not suffer from the same issues of spam. Various services that monitor email communication trends have consistently classified over 50 per cent of daily global email volumes as junk mail. That said, done right, email offers a richer content and user experience that can create consumer stickiness and generate both ad hoc and cyclic demand. It could also serve as a lifeline given the very fluid nature of business.

I imagine the beleaguered supermarket chain Nakumatt having made a dramatic pivot to an online-only shopping experience powered by the troves of data it had on its customers, off their loyalty card, which included email addresses for a large subset. Those on the card, which also served as a wallet were in the hundreds of thousands and insights could be gleaned from basket size, product mix, shopping frequency, preferred outlets, and so on. The warehousing, logistics and other back-office process were still intact and could have supported this shift in partnership with their suppliers.

It is easy to see the retail use case, but what about other sectors? Information overload is a thing, yet what you tend to find on newsletters of those who do capture users' email, is a regurgitation of that which is available online, as opposed to what would be value addition; a summary of key points that would leave one duly informed. Understandably we are still selling click-throughs and eyeballs. Whether generating demand or as the product itself, newsletters hold great potential for revenue generation and ultimately profit.

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