We all know that our inboxes can overflow with too many incoming messages.
What do you currently receive as email, that would be better in some other medium? For example, when I order from Amazon.com I get a series of emails about the shipping process. Why can't that be a self-expiring RSS feed that updates when the status changes?
What else could we get out of our inboxes?
I know I send out some sales reports, etc., that I wish were more automated, and could be reached through a web interface by those who need them.
Not to sound contrary, but the virtue of sending some content actually in e-mail, rather than making it available via a link, is that once received it can be read whether or not the receipient's online. And e-mail that's actually stored locally on my iPhone or Blackberry is far more useful than a Web link that I can only access if I'm not on the train or in the air or what have you.
Whether Amazon should, for example, send customers an e-mail documenting every little detail of the shipment process is ultimately a judgment call. I often get mildly annoyed with e-mail notifications of the form "We're about to do it" followed by separate notifications that read "We've done it," but is that more annoying than wanting more detail than is offered? I don't know. I think it comes down to making a choice and being consistent with it.
You're right Jeffery that it is a judgement call, but I think tolerance for 'over communicating' is going to drop, since email inboxes are getting so overwhelming.
That's particularly the case if the same information could be made available through a less intrusive method like RSS.
Well sure, but it's really important to remember that "RSS" doesn't mean anything to the vast majority. I understand that the new Mac OS X will intelligently route feed URLs to your mail program, where they should go, but does Windows do anything like that? Or does telling your customers to use RSS mean giving them detailed instructions about how to download, install and use a third-party program, possibly at extra cost?
I'm all for supporting feeds as an alternative to e-mail, but I would be incredibly reluctant to recommend using them as a primary means of communicating with your audience or customers.
Maybe that's just me. I live in this tiny corner of the Internet, after all. :-)