In 2009, there were approximately 90 trillion emails sent, or about 13,200 emails for every one of the world's 6.8 billion residents. This is according to data from web monitoring firm Pingdom and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Narrowed to likely email recipients, this staggering data indicates that there were some 176 emails per user per day in 2009. So it seems apparent that inundated inboxes are an epidemic. This epidemic means that it can be difficult for ecommerce marketers to get a potential customer's attention and even harder to get that customer to do anything more than quickly scan your message.
To help address this challenge, GetResponse has released a new email-to-speech service that lets marketers include a "Listen" button in their emails and allows recipients to have their messages read to them while doing other tasks or listening on a mobile handset.
For making emails speak, I am awarding GetResponse's new email-to-speech service four out of a possible five stars in this, "The PEC Review."
"The PEC Review" is my weekly column aimed to introduce you to the products or services that I believe may help you improve your ecommerce business. This week, let me describe why I think email-to-speech is a good idea.
Email-to-Speech: Video Overview
Understanding the Use Cases
At first blush, speaking emails may not seem like a time saver. In fact, it will almost certainly take GetResponse's speaking software longer to read an email message to me than it would have taken for me to read it myself, but I believe there are at least two use cases that make this service very attractive.
The first of these use cases is the multi-tasking user (this is me) that will get in the habit of listening to some email messages while doing something else. In this way, the emails become a sort of background that the user is absorbing and can react to while completing another task at the same time.
I already do something very similar every day. O'Reilly media offers a "Listen" button on some of its articles and blog posts, and I routinely listen to these articles or other sites' business-related podcasts while doing other things, like posting to Twitter and Facebook, or browsing news headlines.
For me it would not be a stretch to listen to some emails.
Mobile users are also likely to try this feature. As the second use case, mobile users—holding a phone in their hands and, perhaps, even wearing a Bluetooth headset—are almost certainly going to try this since it will be much easier to listen to the message than read it on a handset's relatively small screen.
The Quality of the Voice
GetResponse has done a good job with the voices it has reading email messages. Marketers can presently select either male or female voices with either an American or British English accent. Other languages will be forthcoming.
While it is obvious that the reader is a machine and not a human, it is one of the best programmatic readers that I have personally heard. Try listening to it for yourself on the GetResponse site (click "Live Demo").
GetResponse is offering email-to-speech free for 30-days. After the trial period, users will pay $9.95 per month for the service over and above the standard GetResponse fees which range from $18.00 per month for mailing lists of less than 501 recipients to $145 per month for lists as large as 25,000 recipients.
Easy to Integrate
As with nearly every GetResponse feature, adding email-to-speech requires no technical expertise and is, in fact, as simple as completing other task in the system's WYSIWYG editor.
Email-to-speech will not appeal to every potential customer on your mailing list, but this service will almost certainly get some play with busy users and mobile users.
If you already use GetResponse for your email marketing, try email-to-speech free for a month. Measure the results and decide it if is worth keeping.