Email as the Interface

“Would you buy the report now?”
A hipster whizzed by on an electric scooter behind me. The motor whurring as I presented my document to the chain’s VP of marketing.
I handed him a red Sharpie, as I peeled back the first page.
“Cross off whatever you don’t need, and add a little note in the margin if information is missing.”
I was presenting him my “User Interface” or lack thereof. Inside the ~12 printed pages contained several charts, graphs, and numbers. Each one representing the fast-casual burger chain’s performance across all 14 locations.
Back at the coworking space, my cofounder was anxious to throw some CSS up behind a login screen. He wanted to add little charts that wiggle as they erupt from the bottom of the graph, like tiny organic skyscrapers rising up from the x-axis.
But an interface is just a means to an end.
Your customers don’t actually need the graph itself (they definitely don’t need the wiggle). What they need are answers. What they need — is a way to do their job better, faster. To get to of work 1/2 hour early.
Your customers aren’t paying for your app or service, they are paying to get to their kids’ soccer game on time.
Once you realize this, you realize that you can (and should) bleed your experience outside your walled garden. Any real estate you can transform into a method of communication with your customer, is real estate available to provide value. And email is fantastic real estate.

8 Examples of Using Email as the Interface

Using email as an interface is not a new concept. Here are a few examples of emails I have compiled that treat the email as a dashboard to provide information directly to the inbox.


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Pebble (rip Pebble)

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Fitbit (again)

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G Suite (formerly Google Apps)

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Let us know other examples you have come across of using Email as an Interface and so that we can update this blog post with your examples! 

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