Alexa email app release

Last year, Amazon released the Alexa update that allows it to access and read your emails, through Gmail and Outlook.com initially, with more email clients expected to be added to the list soon.

Just by saying “Alexa, read my emails”, the application goes through the ones marked as Important first, and in case there are none, reads your inbox emails from newest to oldest.

You can link as many mailboxes as needed and apply a four-digit voice code in case there are different devices in your home.

Alexa will only go through the emails you’ve received in the past 24 hours, a surprisingly limited feature, but come to think about it, much like a voicemail, it might not be the best support to go through overcrowded email inboxes.

For longer emails, Alexa will read part of it and then it will calculate how long it would take to read the rest and ask the user if they would like to listen to all of it. Be careful, once you say “yes” there won’t be a way to get out of it and Alexa will read the whole email.

After reading an email, the user will hear different options such as reply or delete.

What does this mean for email marketing professionals?

For email marketers, Alexa poses several issues interesting challenges.

Firstly, emails read from this app won’t show in the Open Rates analytics, since it does not open said email in a browser and therefore does not load the image pixel.

Another problem email marketers need to be aware of is that Alexa will read the HTML version of the email unless there is none available, in which case it will read the text-only version: if you have any hidden HTML (such as display:none, for instance) Alexa will read it. Emojis are supported as far as Unicode Version 10, and Alexa will describe them by name as it finds them.

Finally, a third potential problem we have identified is the fact that punctuation is critical. Copywriters, make sure you read emails out loud first to check nothing could be misinterpreted!

Tips for building accessible emails

It’s not just Alexa and Siri users. There are millions of email customers who have visual impairments and “listen” to your emails on different devices. What can you do about it?

Find a good image-to-text ratio. Forget about image-only emails, your message will get lost.

Make copy explicit. Be careful with abbreviations and play-on-words, and include key information (e.g. the main offer) in the text so no one will miss it.

Use a reliable From Name and a valid reply-to address. Targeted customers won’t be seeing the address they are replying to. If you set up a no-reply the user experience won’t be great.