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With the advent of social media, as well as other Web and mobile messaging services, many may question what the future holds for email. Mark Zuckerberg certainly wants you to believe that.
Your personal opinion on the matter will probably depend on a number of factors – your age and line of work to name two. But in this app-obsessed age, we thought we’d take a look at some of the neat email-focused services out there, to see what value the 42-year-old medium may still bring.
1. The Listserve: An email lottery
The Listserve sells itself as an “email lottery”, giving one person a day the chance to write something to all the other subscribers.
At the time of writing, The Listserve has just north of 24,000 signed-up members. How does it work? Simply enter your email address, and you may get the chance to put pen to paper – metaphorically speaking – and have your musings read by the other members.
Granted, it may take some time for you to be selected to write, but in the meantime you will receive random writings from people around the world. It could be a productivity guide, op-ed, recipe…anything.
Indeed, Sunrise still offers this as part of its broader service, connecting with Facebook, Google Calendar, Eventbrite, Foursquare and LinkedIn to send you a daily digest of everything you need to know about your day.
While the more proactive among you will probably prefer to visit a calendar-based app (e.g. Sunrise itself) directly to see what you have on your agenda each day, receiving an email of all the things you need to do is still useful.
It’s like having a personal assistant keeping tabs on what you should be doing, and where you should be at.
3. Thread: Personal stylists…by email
Based on the answers to your questions during registration, Thread matches you to the ideal stylist, who ‘shops’ on your behalf, emailing you outfits they believe you will like.
The service itself is free, but of course the idea here is that you will then buy the clothes…so it really is in their interests to work hard to tailor, if you’ll pardon the pun, the email specifically for your needs.
If you do like what you see, Thread sends you the outfits to try on at home, with free shipping in both directions to help tempt you.
4. Poncho: Personalized weather forecasts
Though it’s currently available in New York only, Poncho offers an interesting take on weather forecast services for the digital age, delivering local, personalized weather alerts by email or SMS.
A product of Betaworks, Poncho explains the weather in plain English, such as: “O la la! It’s a bright and sunny morning…”, and “Womp womp, it’s rainy and in the 40s now…”.
When you first sign up, Poncho gets to know you by asking a series of questions, such as what time you typically awaken, whether you walk a dog, how you travel to work, and what time you take lunch. Then, it just gives you a brief overview of what the weather will be like for the day ahead.
Granted, it’s not massively detailed, but that’s the whole point – it sidesteps graphs and pictures to just give you the basic information. Will it be warm? Will it rain? What’s the pollen count going to be like?
5. StyleUp: Weather meets fashion
StyleUp could perhaps best be described as Thread meets Poncho. Simply put, you receive one email at a time specified by you in advance, outlining your local weather and an outfit to match.
During the sign-up process, you take a short survey which helps determine your fashion preferences, and you indicate what outfits you like from a series of photos. You also have to convey your location, from which the weather information is gleaned each day and an appropriate outfit is served up accordingly.
Then, each weekday, you receive recommendations that you can adhere to from your own existing closet, or click through to buy an item you like – this obviously won’t arrive in time for today’s weather.
The rating element of the service is key too – it should learn and get better over time as you indicate what you do and don’t like within each email.
The platform has evolved since then, launching Visual.ly Create for users to create their own infographics, before going on to roll out a complete redesign with social features last July. And then in October, Visually unveiled a new marketplace to help put its community of infographic designers to work.
Earlier this year, however, Visual.ly introduced a neat new tool that integrates with Google Analytics to email you weekly Web metric reports as infographics
In terms of the metrics this new tool serves up, what we’re talking about here is a snapshot. You have pageviews, social engagement, SEO, and bounce rate. If you require more details, such as top-performing posts, you’d maybe want to check out something like Parse.ly instead.
However, if all you’re looking for is a general overview of traffic, and you don’t need to sift through Google Analytics with a fine-toothed comb each day, then this may come in handy.
7. Now I Know: A newsletter of incredible things
With more than 100,000 subscribers, Now I Know has emerged as a popular email newsletter that imparts all sorts of information on a daily basis.
Courtesy of lawyer Dan Lewis, Now I Know’s content is also archived online, but if you’re looking for one news nugget in your inbox each day, you could find things like the Secret Starbucks, The First Rickroll, and how Abraham Lincoln created the Secret Service the day he was shot.
It’s proven so popular, a book is now en-route too.
While Longreads also made it onto our top Twitter accounts to follow, if you’re not much of a Twitter fan or simply don’t have the time to read a long piece every day, the newsletter is probably for you.
In a nutshell, Longreads presents a hand-picked selection of some of the best storytelling on the Web. And with the newsletter, you get a curated top-5 selection of the week’s best. Simple.
9. The Fetch
The Fetch is an excellent email resource that surfaces some of the best local events, jobs, news and related must-reads.
The Fetch currently serves nine cities – New York, San Francisco, LA, London, Berlin, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland, with an additional ‘Global’ subscription option. You then receive a free weekly email digest – they’re all archived too so you can get a flavor of what to expect by clicking here.
What is Swayy? Well, as we noted in our original closed beta coverage earlier this year, it’s a little like Percolate and LinkedIn’s recommended articles, infiltrated by trending keywords for broad topics it thinks you’ll find interesting.
First up, you must connect your Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn account, then Swayy scans your profile to suggest articles it thinks you will find interesting and, thus, worth sharing.
This includes an analytics dashboard that shows trends around what you do and how people are reacting to it. And yes, there’s a great daily digest email with recommended content worth sharing too.
You can also add custom topics from the dashboard, which gives more control about the specific subject-areas you wish to track.
So, once you’ve done the initial setting up, you don’t really have to bother with the app again if you don’t want to – you can just sit back and automatically receive a tonne of content tailored to what you like, directly to your inbox. It’s also worth checking out Scoop.it which has a similar offering.
11. Muck Rack Daily
Muck Rack is a platform that filters and analyzes how journalists are covering the news in real-time. It also offers a tracking tool that emails users when journalists tweet about relevant terms, while the Muck Rack Daily is a digest delivered to your inbox daily.
You can, of course, view the whole archive online too, and as far as snapshots of Twitter journalism go, it’s up there.
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