Written by Brook Schaaf
Younguns may not know, but before Gmail there were other free email account providers, most notably Yahoo and Hotmail (God bless rare sightings of the latter). My Hotmail accounts are long gone, but my Yahoo one is still around — just disused because Gmail’s spam filtering is so much better, plus they power our corporate email.
As of an announcement last week, I have cause to visit mail.yahoo.com again. Yahoo just announced AI enhancements for a smarter inbox, including search improvements, a writing assistant, and message summaries. These are nifty, but offered elsewhere. What really caught my eye was “Shopping Saver,” a feature unique to Yahoo Mail that “surfaces long-forgotten gift cards, discount codes, and store credits in user inboxes.”
Senior Vice President and General Manager of Yahoo Communications Josh Jacobson is quoted as saying, “US consumers have $23 billion in unused gift cards and credits.” That’s an average total of $187 per person, up 38% compared to 2021.
If you run a search for a given merchant, you might get dozens or hundreds of results, plus other emails triggered. Shopping Saver is potentially a huge boon for regular consumers whose inboxes are flooded with too much promotional content to slog through.
This is also true if you’re searching for a code sent directly to you. FMTC reviews over 10,000 merchant newsletters each month to add codes to our feeds, but emails direct to consumers often include codes not in affiliate networks. Some affiliates harvest these, though this is a risky (not to mention time-intensive) game because commissions can be reversed when forbidden codes are used.
If AI acts as a co-pilot for email users (I granted access to OpenAI to read these emails when I applied for the beta), it could well stimulate engagement and transactions by saving everyone time and money. Of course, prospective customers are less likely to receive these emails to begin with, so merchants would do well to add the same deals as affiliate links to draw them in. But remember, these emails remain invisible to most users, lost in the noise. So, merchants, take note — if you want to lure in new customers, throw in those sweet deals as affiliate links. You’ll thank me later.