Home Uncategorized Can our emails read your mind? (Yes, well, kinda)

    Can our emails read your mind? (Yes, well, kinda)


    This week we’ve been testing a new elaborate email technology…

    That can reads minds!

    Whahahahahahaahhahaaaaaaaa…. (splutter).

    No, it’s not the progeny of a mad scientist and clairvoyant tech-geek.

    It’s the result of some very clever programming by Melbourne-based entrepreneur Ben Dyer and his company Taguchi Mail.

    This week we flooded our readers’ inboxes with a wide range of stories, semi-obnoxious headlines, serious opinions and a spattering of irreverent, odd-ball items of information from around the globe. We did this to get a better idea of just what interests our readership as a whole, and you personally.

    While the email technology can’t read minds (literally), it can self-optimise.

    So, what does this mean?

    It can choose headlines based on their ability to improve Open-Rates during email dissemination. It can re-configure the order of stories and promotions in the email based on their popularity to increase Click-Throughs. Lastly, it can serve up information to reflect your tastes (it has a memory!) and the interests of ‘people like you’ (according to your tastes and demographic information, such as your location, identified by your IP address).

    For example, the newsletter sent to opt-in subscribers today left our office with three headlines…

    “If you ever wanted a big brother…”
    “Can this email read your mind? (Yes it can, kinda)”
    “This week, you’ve been our Guinea Pigs…”

    Throughout the dissemination of the email, Taguchi Mail’s technology observed which headline was generating the highest Open-Rate and then accordingly increased the percentage of people sent that headline.

    On Monday, return here and I’ll tell you which headline was the most effective. (We, alas, are not clairvoyant.)

    It might sound a bit spooky (Big Anthill is watching you!) but it’s all about serving up relevant content and not bothering you with information that you don’t need or want.

    Where does it fall down?

    As discussed in my Editor’s Note in our Dec 2008/Jan 2009 edition, the problem with any platform customised to a person’s preferences is that after a while it simply works to reinforce the recipient’s beliefs and, perhaps, their prejudices. (There’s actually a really interesting video clip that’s been doing the rounds on this very topic for quite some time. It’s definitely worth checking out, so I’ve posted it on Anthill TV).

    But, of course, that’s not a problem with the technology. It simply means that our days as good, conscientious editors is not over yet (phew!) and that we’ll naturally make sure that differing and sometimes controversial opinions keep entering the mix.

    For now, here are your behaviours (as a whole) for the past week:

    1. ORs & CRs: Open-Rates (ORs) peaked at 38.8% on Monday, along with Click-Through-Rates  (CTRs) at 18.3%.

    2. Web Traffic: However, while ORs and CTRs decreased throughout the week, web traffic increased – five fold, in fact! I guess readers began to realise that we have plenty of new content daily, because of (and in spite of) our Daily Emails.

    3. Top 10 CRs: The top five most popular Click-Through items were…

    1. Why we’re embarrassed about our website (and proud of it)
    2. If you were the PM, how would you spend $42b?
    3. Just how distressed is the US economy? Let’s go to the graph…
    4. InnoCentive: The wisdom of lab crowds
    5. Get some lipstick on ya collar

    4. Top 10 pages: Web traffic only slightly resembled Click-Through choices. The top five most read pages on the site were…

    1. Why we’re embarrassed about our website (and proud of it)
    2. Having trouble paying bills? Try digital arachnid!
    3. Just how distressed is the US economy? Let’s go to the graph…
    4. Editor’s Blog
    5. About Us

    5. Opt-Outs: Throughout this seemingly random barrage of emails and topics sent, only 376 people opted-out. That represents less than 3% of our email database, a particularly low number considering that we invited readers to opt-out, as part of the lead message, every day (and no biggie, considering our weekly opt-in rate is much higher).

    Overall, it’s been an interesting and exciting week, at the ‘hill.

    We hope that you’ll stick with us, as we further refine our email channel (and carve it up into topic-specific channels to reflect your interests and needs). But if Daily is too much, once again, you won’t hurt our feelings if you opt-out.

    One thing I can promise is that we will continue to do our best to share the learnings of our own experiences.

    So, what say you? How wrong/right did we get it?