Keep an eye on IONotice, because it could be the solution that we were expecting to email marketing.
Email marketing is a nightmare. It’s a nightmare for those who have to send emails and it’s a nightmare for those who receive them.
On one hand, designing emails, managing recipients, not sent emails and error messages, managing the privacy of the recipients, scheduling… On the other hand, the mailbox filled with unsolicited emails, too many messages, requesting unsubscription, giving our personal data…
However, email marketing works and is a very useful information source that allows companies to engage customers, know their preferences and attract leads. How can be resolved this dilemma?
A company called Ice One Technology may have the answer: IONotice.
When I discovered this app I saw it had a great potential, so I contacted David Gallego, co-founder, to know how the project began.
In 2012, David, a computer engineer, and Ismael de Andrés, industrial engineer, were tired of receiving spam and having to continually give their personal data. So they decided to design an app where the user would take full control of what and when wanted to receive information. In January 2013 they launched IONotice.
In fact, none of them had experience in app design. They had to learn on the fly, and improve the product with the help of 3 or 4 collaborators and the users feedback. Currently, they are in the fourth version of the program.
¿How the app works?
First there are the “sources”, those who generate information (companies, institutions…). Secondly, there are the users, who can follow the sources of their interest by downloading the app (Android, iPhone or PC).
The sources have different information channels and, within these channels, they can add various options. For example, a travel agency could create a cruise channel and another for ecotourism. Within the cruise channel they could distinguish between news, promotions…
Once they have their channels and options, the source creates a DMS, Digital Message System. They select the target channel and option, and write the message content, including a link, image or document. The DMS can be sent immediately or be scheduled.
Thus, those users who follow that source and have selected the channel and the option can view their DMS.
Why it could be the future of email marketing?
The key of IONotice lies is in its origins, since it was created from the perspective of the user (those who receive the emails), rather than the company that sends them, which is usually more common.
Heirs of an old communication strategy, nowadays companies decide what they send and to whom it is sent, having the user a passive role. With IONotice, however, users decide what information they want to receive (a strategy more suited to the era of social networks). Indeed, who can know better than the users what interests them?
Although there are many similarities, this app is different from social networks in the fact that each source has different channels, so that users, while following a source, can filter the type of content they receive. Besides, there is no limitation of space.
Obviously, this situation in which the user takes control and decides, can seem intimidating to companies (like social networks at the beginning). However, they also win, although it’s certainly necessary to put more effort, since they cannot impose their will, but convince.
Companies win because they no longer have to worry about identifying the target audience. The user does this by them. They don’t need to worry about privacy or because their emails are received as spam. They no longer receive messages from irate users who don’t want to receive anymore their emails. They no longer have to avoid filling the customers’ mailbox with emails.
More and more companies leave the email as a tool for internal communication and use social networks for businesses, like Yammer or Socialcast. More and more companies use customer support software, like Zendesk or Uservoice. It’s time for marketing.
As a result of the relationship of the co-founders with social entities, Ice One Technology supports associations and the cultural and education sector, offering them the app for free. Perhaps this is the reason why most of the 700 sources that currently use IONotice are associations, schools, municipalities and media. During this time, the reception has been very good and even some users (sources) have substituted emails by DMS.
In a second phase than starts now, however, the aim is to incorporate sources of payment, i.e., companies. From my point of view, the incorporation of this new type of sources presents, inevitably, a number of challenges.
Why limit yourself to local sources? Most sources of IONotice are Spanish and although some sources are from Argentina and México, most of them are in Spanish. In this sense it’s good to know that the website and the app for sources will soon be available in English (the app for users is already in English).
2. More sources and a wider variety
We all have our phones full of apps. If a company tells me I have to install an app to follow their news I would like to use it also to follow other interesting sources.
Currently, most IONotice sources are schools, associations and municipalities, all them unattractive to customers of companies outside these areas. It’s unlikely that a client would download an app only to follow my news.
Both the program used by sources and the app that users download have a too technical look. Sources images also should be enhanced. A designer could help them redesign a more friendly user experience.
4. Visual content
Content is increasingly visual. Colors, images and fonts are essential to attract attention. However, the DMS editor is too simple and some DMS almost seem tweets. Possibly, as it currently stands, the app is good enough to schools and associations, but companies don’t have loyal followers as parents and members. They need to convince and attract customers and this required the use of visual content.
Surely it isn’t necessary something like MailChimp, but, certainly, companies will need a more sophisticated tool.
If we give the control to the user, companies will need something in exchange. Improving the reporting panel could be the answer. Who actually saw our DMS? Who clicked our links?
6. Sometimes storing data is necessary
A few days ago I downloaded IONotice in my office PC. I looked for sources and I began to follow some channels and options. Once at home I downloaded the app on my iPad. Since I don’t need to register, my preferences couldn’t be saved, so I had to search for channels again. It may not be necessary to ask for an email, but a user name and password could solve this problem.
Surely IONotice needs to grow and be polished, but it has great potential. Stay tuned, because the future of email marketing could be here.