Monday, 28 July 2014

systems and methods for online marketing

Systems and methods for online marketing and advertising on e-mail systems
US 20070038718 A1

Methods for enhancing e-mail messages to provide preview enhanced e-mail messages that allow e-mail senders to associate customized preview content related to an e-mail message, including graphical images, that can be viewed by recipients directly from an e-mail inbox listing without opening the e-mail message itself. The e-mail messages have associated preview instructions, and have a preview trigger that upon actuation opens a temporary preview window on the inbox view and displays the preview content in accordance with the preview instructions while the preview trigger is actuated. The invention is applicable to web-based e-mail systems as well as to POP-based and proprietary e-mail systems.
This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/667,103, filed Sep. 17, 2003, which claims the benefit of: Provisional Application No. 60/411,836, filed Sep. 18, 2002; Provisional Application No. 60/422,293, filed Oct. 30, 2002; Provisional Application No. 60/457,407, filed Mar. 25, 2003; Provisional Application No. 60/478,212, filed Jun. 12, 2003; and Provisional Application No. 60/480,076, filed Jun. 20, 2003, the disclosures of which are all incorporated by reference herein.


The present invention relates generally to e-mail messages sent over a telecommunications network, and more specifically to the enhancement of e-mail messages to provide a preview mechanism, whereby senders of e-mail may provide special customized preview content, such as graphical messages in addition to the e-mail content.
E-mail is regarded as the Internet's first and one of its biggest applications. In 2000, International Data Corp. estimated that the average daily volume of e-mail around the world was about ten billion and will explode to thirty-five billion by 2005. Companies online and offline are finding that e-mails are a very effective and low-cost method to communicate with their customers. Unfortunately, unsolicited e-mail (SPAM or UCE) has become a big problem, and the pervasiveness of SPAM has diluted the power and effectiveness of e-mail as a means to attract, communicate with and keep customers.
Recipients of legitimate e-mail often find it difficult to sort through their e-mail messages and differentiate legitimate or commercial e-mail from e-mail that is SPAM or junk. The subject line often does not offer sufficient description of the content to adequately describe the e-mail or to entice the recipient to open it. As a result, many recipients routinely delete e-mails they are unable to identify, assuming the e-mails to be unwanted SPAM. This creates difficulties for legitimate commercial e-mail senders.
Existing e-mail implementations lack the flexibility of a creative and attractive physical “envelop” as afforded by postal mail to entice recipients to open or read the associated message. For example, envelopes of direct postal mail advertisers often contain colorful fonts and pictures to attract the user's curiosity, and catalogs also have attractive covers to give the recipients an indication of the contents. An e-mail with a subject line touting a sale on “Sears' Apostrophe” line may not mean much to recipients unfamiliar with the Apostrophe brand, whereas in a physical Sears' catalog examples of the Apostrophe line's products may be prominently displayed, prompting recipients to open and browse through the catalog.
There have been only a few examples of technology enhancements that help promotions stand out in the e-mail inbox of users. An enhancement might be in the form of a unique icon identifying the promotion as legitimate. FIG. 8 a shows an example of an MSN Featured Offers promotions e-mail sent to users of Hotmail by partners of MSN. Certain promotional e-mails 803 may have a different icon than an ordinary e-mail 802. FIG. 8 b shows an example of where users are shown a small graphic 812 to entice the user to open the associated message. However Greenmail's promotional messages are not e-mail based. Users set up an account at Greenmail and advertising messages are inserted to the users' accounts by Greenmail. Also, Greenmail's static overlay graphical approach may clutter the listing of promotions in the user's promotional folder and limit the space on the screen for listing of messages.
Microsoft Outlook (FIG. 8 c) has a static preview window 182that shows a portion of the body of the e-mail, as shown in 821. However, this often does not help a recipient understand what the e-mail is about, especially if the body of the e-mail is large. The recipient may still be required to scroll in the preview window and scan the e-mail to understand its contents. Also, the Outlook preview window may limit the space allocated to the listing of an e-mail and make reading a long list of e-mail very tedious.
It is desirable to provide e-mail methods and systems that avoid the foregoing difficulties and address these and other known problems with current e-mail advertising approaches, and it is to these ends that the present invention is directed.