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Paying for inbox access?

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday December 9, 2007 )

With Boxbe’s new email service, a person’s inbox will no longer necessarily be a free-for-all to marketers

In an interesting twist on “get paid to read email”, Boxbe offers its users the option of hiring out their inbox.

Boxbe allows you to create an email guest list so you only receive email messages from people you want. There’s nothing unusual in that – it’s basically just a whitelist setup, along with the same sort of challenge/response mechanisms of other services – i.e. an unknown sender needs to jump through a few hoops to get the message through. The service works with Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo Mail and Google Gmail.

Here’s the twist – legitimate marketers who want to email a Boxbe user will need to pay a fee set by the user (or managed by Boxbe), unless of course the business is already on the person’s whitelist. Boxbe takes a slice of that fee, the rest goes to the user. Some of the information in the user’s profile will be made available to marketers to assist them in selecting the recipients to receive the message.

I can just imagine the “ka-ching” sounds echoing in the average email user’s head on hearing about this; them lining up to grab a Boxbe account.. and then waiting for all the cash to roll in.. and probably waiting for a little while since the service is relatively new.

I’m still trying to get my own head around if this could be a very successful model – it most likely could with some refinement and if Boxbe users don’t get too greedy :).

It definitely has novelty and buzzworthy value and the idea of sharing revenue with users is a good one, rather than the cash to access a service’s users just going to the provider as has been the case in some other scenarios. If this idea should become mainstream though, email marketing is going to become a much more expensive exercise.

It will be very interesting to see how Boxbe evolves!

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3 comments for Paying for inbox access?
  1. Michael-

    Thanks for the mention on your blog about Boxbe. I hope you have had a chance to try out the service.

    Boxbe is not about charging for email. Instead, it is an effective mechanism for screening emails, so that you get the emails you want, and avoid the emails you don’t want.

    Let me know if you have any questions about Boxbe you’d like answered. I’d be glad to help.

    Randy Stewart
    Boxbe Product Manager

    Comment by Randy Stewart — December 10, 2007 @ 6:10 pm

  2. Scary if it gets to be mainstream, as there are so many costs already, I fear paid email would break the bank for those with low conversion rates, and startups could find it pretty tough going as well.
    My guess is that many marketers would not pay to contact, and a change in modus operandi would be the main effect

    Comment by Ern — December 11, 2007 @ 1:04 am

  3. Thanks for your comment Ern :).

    Hi Randy, thanks for stopping by. This blog is mainly about web marketing and ecommerce; hence my focus on that particular aspect of your service.

    Comment by Michael Bloch — December 11, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

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