Over the past four weeks or so, I have been playing with a free outlook plug-in that has transformed my inbox into a much cooler place to be. It’s called Xobni (“inbox” spelled backwards) and I can now report with conviction that it is one of the more useful pieces of software on my PC. It fundamentally changes how I use Outlook, and actually increases the value of the email I have stored there by providing me with far easier access to it and the specific information contained within. Besides being very cool software, I believe Xobni and other new products out there on the horizon will be altering the landscape of the inbox in the near term and fundamentally changing how consumers interact with their email.
Xobni indexes all of one’s Outlook email and makes it easily searchable—an extremely useful feature. What is most interesting, however, is how Xobni extracts data from ones emails and analyzes it. For one, the software examines the “To” and “CC” lines of emails, combines it with frequency information, and makes inferences about personal connections, featuring these connections as a “network” of contacts. It’s interesting to note in the screenshot below that both ‘Marketing Daily’ and ‘MediaPost Publications’ are featured right at the top of my network.
The software extracts phone numbers from email signatures as well, and displays this information for convenient access. It also aggregates access to all of the files exchanged between certain senders—very useful stuff.
One of Xobni’s coolest features is called Xobni Analytics—the interface provides a fascinating view into one’s email patterns. It features “time to respond” information by recipient, as well as email traffic by hour, domain, type, etc. For someone who eats, breathes, and sleeps email, this information is fascinating.
I believe the development of products like Xobni and others on the horizon will absolutely change user behaviors around the inbox. For me personally, it has vastly increased the value of my archived newsletters, as I now can search them all by keyword and quickly access all of that stored information. For example, a quick search for “deliverability” in my mail account yielded 148 relevant results—most listings were from saved newsletters.
I believe it’s probably too early to adjust email marketing strategies to accommodate these new products, but exciting developments in email clients are definitely coming down the pike, and I believe they will only increase the value of authentic, relevant email.
Check out Xobni and let me know if you think it’s as cool as I do. And if you’ve seen other inbox plug-ins that you think may help shape the future of the email inbox, please share.
—Nicholas Einstein of Datran Media