Believe it or not, email mining is not a foreign concept. In fact, if you’re using free email providers such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo! Mail, or AOL Mail, you can be certain that your email messages are a source of valuable data for them. So why weren’t you informed about it? The companies fully outline these details in their privacy policies, which most people (myself included) don’t take the time to read. However, by agreeing to the terms and conditions, we’re essentially confirming that we’ve read and understand the information they’ve disclosed to us. This, of course, happens to include their section on email mining.
Looking At Email Providers' Privacy Policies
So what are these companies using your emails for? Before you jump to conclusion and drive yourself into a frenzy, rest assured that they are conducting email mining to benefit you as a customer. In their privacy policies, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo! Mail, and AOL Mail explain that all of the data they collect, even from emails, is used specifically to enhance their services and provide customized ads and content. With the exception of AOL, all of the companies rely on email message content for insights. AOL is only interested in understanding how their email service is being used. To give you a thorough understanding of the companies’ privacy policies, I have transcribed them below exactly as they appear on their websites.
• Gmail: “Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection.”
• Outlook: “Content. We collect content of your files and communications when necessary to provide you with the services you use. This includes: the content of your documents, photos, music or video you upload to a Microsoft service such as OneDrive. It also incudes the content of your communications sent or received using Microsoft services, such as the:
o subject line and body of an email”
• Yahoo: “Yahoo! provides personally relevant product features, content, and advertising, and spam and malware detection by scanning and analysing [sic] Mail, Messenger, and other communications content. Some of these features and advertising will be based on our understanding of the content and meaning of your communications. For instance, we scan and analyse [sic] email messages to identify key elements of meaning and then categorise [sic] this information for immediate and future use.”
• AOL: “Please note that AOL may use information about your use of certain AOL communication tools (for example, AOL Mail and AOL Instant Messenger); however, when you use AOL communication tools, AOL does not read your private online communications without your consent.”
As you can see, these companies are utilizing email mining technology precisely because customers are their number one priority. If you think about it, it’s a win-win situation for all involved. The email providers can better understand their customers and thus maintain a strong customer base. The customers, on the other hand, receive a personalized and exceptional service all around, leaving them satisfied.
Eliminating Fear From Corporate Email Mining
As customers, we authorize email providers to mine our personal emails. While at first we may have been uninformed or weary of this practice (understandably so), we have come to understand that it is intended to benefit us. The question then arises, why is the mere thought of miningcorporate B2B emails so unsettling? Perhaps much like with personal emails, it is a case of insufficient research. Instead of taking the time to fully understand the solution, individuals of authority allow fear and uncertainty to consume their minds. This causes them to improperly label email mining as a big brother tactic that merely spies on the employees.
Looking At Corporate Email Mining From A Different Perspective
To correctly understand email mining corporate emails, it is necessary to look at it from the proper perspective. Just as free email providers notify account holders of their use of personal information, companies disclose to employees at the time of hire that all email communicationsare their property. Since the companies own the data, they have the right to search these emails at any time, with or without notice. Thus, when employees accept jobs at the companies, they are agreeing to these terms and conditions.
In addition, both the company and its employees would benefit from email mining. There is currently a treasure trove of valuable stats, metrics, trends, patterns, and intellectual property sitting idle in emails. Email mining can provide the company with valuable insights including fraud notifications, employee performance, employee dissatisfaction, and much more. This process would also benefit employees (their most valuable asset), particularly sales reps, by providing them with access to ‘top performer’ tribal knowledge and automatically transferring contact info into the CRM system. So long as companies do not engage in nefarious activities, then only these positive outcomes can stem from the process. You simply need to trust that the company will only use your communications for honest work. This is the same type of confidence that you place in free email providers.
Keeping An Open Mind
Although companies are just beginning to mine their corporate emails, the concept itself is not far-fetched. Corporate email mining is the same technology that is already being used on personal email accounts to greatly improve and customize services. If you have an email account with Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, or AOL, then you’ve witnessed the wonders of email mining. Keeping this in mind, it’s time to place the uncertainties aside and make room for the endless possibilities of corporate email mining!
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