That can involve bringing in Orbitz flight and hotel search functions directly into the email message, or Monster’s job search engine. Microsoft also plans to partner up with Netflix and LinkedIn, giving Hotmail users ways to access their queues or LinkedIn profiles directly from the email message. The idea is to shave off a few seconds necessary to travel to other sites and keep the content of email messages up to date.
But it also has the potential of introducing what are essentially ads from Microsoft partners directly into emails — the kind of integrated experience advertisers have long sought.
Research firm ComScore shows that Hotmail is still on top of the email hill with 361.7 million users. Google’s Gmail currently has around 193.3 million users, but it has had a bit of an easier time picking up Internet-savvy evangelists than Microsoft has had. Microsoft is also a bit late to the game with some of its new functions — file-sharing is really a non-issue at this point with the emergence of services like Dropbox, and Google has also been in the Web-based office game for some time now.
Microsoft recently tried to break that cycle by firing off a social media campaign that involved sending the Hotmail development team to news aggregation site Reddit.com. The results weren’t quite so spectacular, as many users didn’t pull their punches and literally asked why they should switch from competing services like Google’s Gmail.
VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools.
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