It is now possible to check your email on your Alexa device.

On December 10, Amazon announced some new Alexa capabilities.  One of the big capabilities was the ability to read and delete email.  Amazon also enabled location-based reminders and routines (which is tied to the smartphone Alexa app), as well as other incremental local search improvements.

If you want to access email on Alexa, you need to add your email accounts under “settings” in the Alexa app. The “calendar” setting will update to “email + calendar.” It currently works with Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail and Live.com.  Just make sure you choose the account and sign in with your password.

After linking the accounts, you’re supposed to be able to “read, compose, send and permanently delete” email. However the compose function wasn’t working. When When Greg Sterling of Marketing Land asked Alexa to “compose” or “send a new email,” it responded “I’m not quite sure how to help you with that.”  Even though it seemed to not compose a new email, it did work when he asked to read email, which seems like it’s a good start.

Alexa will read the sender and subject line. It will then ask if you’d like to “read, reply, delete, archive or next.” If you ask Alexa to read the email, it will read you the full text of the email. If you’re using an Echo Show, with a screen, it will also show you the subject line and sender but it doesn’t show the full email text or images.

This update is something that email marketers should pay attention to.  Being able to read email is quite a useful feature for Alexa devices, as it will provide more utility for owners.  If this update gains traction, it’ll put more pressure on marketer’s email subject lines and copy.  Most users aren’t going to see any text or images and will have more limited informaiton to degermine wheter to save or delete.

Marketers will have a more constrained audio canvas to grab attention and avoid deletion. The key will be to prevent deletion for later consumption on a desktop computer or smartphone. And now that Amazon has done this, expect Google Home to match the feature fairly soon.

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