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Would You Open Spam Email if You Were Paid? The Case for Incentivized Email

September 25, 2018


Would You Open Spam Email if You Were Paid? The Case for Incentivized Email

Emails are one of the most popular options for businesses to reach subscribers, customers, and potential clients. According to research by The Manifest, 69 percent of businesses currently invest in email marketing services. However, just 22 percent of the businesses surveyed felt that emails were the best way to increase customer engagement. This is where blockchain, one the most disruptive technologies to come along in decades, may be able to help. A number of cryptocurrency startups are actively exploring whether cryptocurrencies could help increase the transparency of paid email and its rate of engagement. Does the future of paid email lie on the blockchain? And if you were paid in cryptocurrency to open spam emails, would you do it?  

Are paid email services worth it?

From MailGet Bolt to SendinBlue and GetResponse, there’s a huge range of paid email companies to choose from. While there are always those who maintain that free services such as Gmail are the way to go, there’s no denying that paid services offer intuitive software with handy features. One of the leading companies, MailGet Bolt, offers monthly plans starting from $42 for up to 10,000 emails, letting you see how many recipients opened your emails, who clicked on your links, where it was done and plenty more. As indicated by The Manifest’s research, the clear majority of businesses continue to believe that paid email services are worth the investment.

More companies are using bespoke spam testing solutions

According to Litmus’ third annual State of Email Workflows report, there has been a 13 percent drop in the number of firms using spam filters to check their emails prior to sending over the past three years. Just 1,611 firms indicated that they used spam filter tests to identify potential deliverability problems in 2018, compared with 1,865 businesses identified in Litmus’ 2016 survey. The survey also showed that the use of spam filter tools provided by email service providers (ESPs) has dropped significantly over the past year. Just 36.5% of respondents relied on their spam filter tools in 2018, compared with 46.5 percent a year earlier.

These trends indicate that more companies are turning to bespoke spam testing solutions to avoid their emails hitting issues with business-grade filters such as Gmail, Outlook, and Barracuda. This suggests that demand exists for services that can ensure more emails make it to the inbox, not the spam folder. Paid email services that use cryptocurrencies to incentivize people to accept unsolicited emails have the potential to meet this demand.

Decentralization is creating new opportunities for paid email

Another important trend that supports the case for paid email services is a growing awareness by the general public of the quantity of personal information held about them by private companies such as Google and Facebook. Data privacy concerns have led to a growing interest in decentralized apps and even a decentralized internet. Platforms such as Blockstack already provide access to decentralized internet apps that give users a choice over where their data is stored. This trend is helping to create more opportunities for paid email services.

For instance, cryptocurrency startup Substratum is developing an open, decentralized web where everyone who runs a node gets paid via cryptocurrency each time they serve encrypted content. This is helping to create a fairer, freer internet away from the centralized controls of tech companies. Startups such as Substratum show that the link between giving people more control over their privacy, such as their email addresses, and receiving benefits in the form of cryptocurrencies has already begun to be established. This has created a possible opportunity for paid email services; would people consent to receive unsolicited emails in exchange for cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency incentives could lead to increased customer engagement

We at BitBounce have developed a spam email solution that lets people get paid in cryptocurrency to receive unsolicited emails. We connect to all existing email accounts, in addition to our Chrome extension,  iOS app, and Android app. Users simply select an amount of our cryptocurrency, Credo, that they are willing to accept in order to accept unsolicited emails. This effectively puts a paywall on their inbox and, if the sender is willing to pay the fee, they can guarantee that their email will be read by the intended recipient. We’re betting that enough people will be willing to engage with marketing emails if the price is right.

The use case for incentivized email campaigns

The idea that people would accept payment to read emails has already been established by firms such as Paid to Read Email. While services such as this one usually see participants receive points that can then be redeemed for gift cards, the use of cryptocurrencies offers other advantages. Digital tokens bring transparency and flexibility to the mix; recipients can exchange their tokens for other cryptocurrencies or standard money if they wish. In the case of Bitbounce, users can earn Credo tokens and then exchange these tokens for Bitcoin, Ethereum and other pairs on BitBounce’s exchange, CredoEx.

Recipients would also benefit from greater transparency as they could check the value of the cryptocurrency before agreeing to open or engage with the email. As cryptocurrency can be stored or exchanged for a wide variety of others, recipients would also have more flexibility than they currently have with non-crypto email incentives such as points or gift cards.

Crypto paid email addresses the challenge of privacy on a decentralized internet

In the wake of Facebook’s data privacy scandal, we’ve seen a huge interest in decentralized social media platforms and their promise to give users complete control over their data and where it’s stored. But what happens if someone shares your personal information, such as your email address, and threatens your privacy?

One of the advantages of a centralized internet is that there’s a central company or authority to appeal to in the event of identity theft, harassment or cybercrime. For instance, Google has a form you can fill in to get something taken down. If a photo has been shared without your consent, you can appeal and, as clearly outlined in Google’s policies, you can request to have the material taken down. In a decentralized web with no censorship, how do you address this challenge?

Crypto-based paid email solutions address this challenge by recognizing that in the decentralized future of tomorrow, privacy will remain an ongoing battle. The idea of charging to receive an email relies on the user having an understanding that their data has value. By putting a paywall on their inbox, users of paid email service can choose to either ignore unsolicited emails or to tap into this value by receiving cryptocurrencies as a reward for engaging. Unlike today’s centralized email services where users can easily fall prey to advertisers and marketers, decentralized approaches to paid email will place power in the hands of the consumer.  

Final thoughts

The case for paid email rests with the emergence of a new type of consumer rewards ecosystem where people can monetize their data. Paid email services such as BitBounce align with this trend where consumers are empowered to receive the value that their data holds. This should provide a more efficient way for companies to identify and engage their target audience and increase the effectiveness of their marketing programs. As to whether consumers are willing to put a price tag on their privacy in this way, only time will tell.