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January 03, 2013

Control Your Inbox Before it Takes Control of You

By Joe Rizzo, TMCnet Contributing Writer

How many people go to open their e-mail only to find the inbox overflowing with subscription ads? If you are one of those unlucky individuals who have dealt with this situation before, then obviously you do not access your inbox enough. It seems that every time you order something online or just visit a site these days, you are automatically signed up for an e-mail subscription for their ads. The only way to avoid this is the make sure that you scroll down to the very bottom of the screen and unclick the ad selection.

How would you like to manage ads and subscriptions in one easy step? Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? To get a little perspective on the situation think about this: the fact that this past year for the week ending November 30 top retailers and brands sent each of their subscribers an all-time high of over six promotional e-mails on average per week. Considering that was one month before Christmas, you can imagine how many more were sent in December.

There could be a simple solution to this problem. Keep Holdings is a company that focuses on advertising, commercial e-mail and e-commerce. They put an emphasis on how social media can bring brands and consumers together in productive ways. The company was founded by Scott Kurnit, who also founded About.com.

In fact, the company has debuted a new service called The Swizzle. It is a free e-mail organizer that is designed to help consumers organize their inbox and manage their communications with retailers and brands. It is a fairly simple process. Swizzle can scan your mailbox for commercial mail such as newsletters, deals and special offers. When the scan is complete, you choose which of the selected items you want to unsubscribe from. Swizzle will then take care of contacting each site and unsubscribing you from the list.




There is a second side to The Swizzle. There are some sites that you will want to keep and get sale and special offer information from. The Swizzle can help you there as well. You can simply create a “daily digest” of sites to keep. Originally, this is what Keep Holdings was developing.

It was building a Web-based gallery to showcase product news, offers, and alerts that brands send out to their customers via e-mail. This service would allow consumers to search through offers from over 1,100 brands without having to subscribe to each site on their own. This would be combined into one e-mail. Once you make your selections, you can then decide when you want to receive the e-mail. You can choose to receive a daily or weekly e-mail through the service.

The unsubscribe option came as a surprise. The development team was working with a developer named Adam Novinska. He and his fiancé were working on their wedding plans during this time and as you can imagine, they subscribed to many wedding planner sites. It didn’t take long for the daily e-mails to start coming fast and strong. While developing the product for Keep Holdings and working on his wedding plans, Novinska took a little time for himself and developed a technology for the couple to unsubscribe from newsletters, mailing lists and commercial e-mails. He named the service “Unsubscribr.”

Keep Holdings saw how the two services complemented each other. The company also saw a combined symmetry that would let the consumer both clean up and organize their brand communications all at once. Unsubscribr was purchased by Keep Holdings; the two services were bundled together and out emerged The Swizzle. Another thing that came from this was that Novinska was hired to be the company’s chief technology officer.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) took a look at 5,900 new companies in 2012. From this list, it came up with the third annual ranking of the top 50 Start-up companies and Keep Holdings was ranked 46 out of 50. To be eligible for this recognition, the business must be based in the United States, have received an equity round of financing in the past three years, and be valued at less than $1 billon.




Edited by Jamie Epstein
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