Yahoo Mail offers new engagement opportunities

Yahoo recently unveiled a new webmail interface worldwide, codenamed “Minty,” which follows on Hotmail’s recent makeover and Gmail’s release of the “Priority Inbox.” 

Competing for the attention of their current users while dazzling new ones, Yahoo Mail integrates social, SMS, video and pictures, which will hopefully make its e-mail portal stickier for its users as they continue to flock to places like Facebook. 

Yahoo Mail users can now check – and post – Facebook and Twitter updates via the webmail interface, meaning they don’t need to leave their inbox to update their social networks. In addition, Yahoo users can now view video and pictures within their e-mail from Flickr and YouTube, further cementing the idea that there’s no reason to leave Yahoo. Yahoo will also attempt to be a digital communication hub by integrating both IM and SMS.

In addition, the new program makes it easier for users to see messages from their contacts and, like Gmail Priority Inbox, will try to guess what mail is most desired and relevant to each indivdual based on past actions. It also vows to be twice as fast by using its cloud-based services. It will also
improve its spam filter. 

While it’s too soon to tell how these changes affect e-mail marketers, based on recent changes at its competitors Hotmail and Gmail, we know to focus on particular strategies. 

Segmentation: Yahoo has discussed using engagement metrics. To prepare for this possibility and its mail prioritization, segment your file based on things like brand, message type and activity. 

Win-back: Design a win-back strategy that re-engages your inactive subscribers and removes dead addresses. A surprisingly few number of companies do this.

Video: Given that most e-mail providers now play video directly in e-mail, try embedding a YouTube video in your
e-mails to boost response rates as well as engagement.  

Cross-channel marketing: Develop a cross-channel marketing strategy to take advantage of all of these e-mail
providers combining the social media explosion with the inbox. Look at your most engaged customers by combining your e-mail metrics with your Web analytics to see who’s on multiple channels. Include “Share with your network” buttons in all e-mails to further spread brand news and awareness. A recent GetResponse study showed a whopping 30% increase in click-through links when such share buttons were added.

As Yahoo rolls out these changes, there will certainly be challenges but also opportunities for marketers who know how to adapt and present relevant, engaging content.

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