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Basecamp has a new email service called HEY — and it's a game-changer

Basecamp has a new email service called HEY — and it's a game-changer Blog Feature

Joel Waggener

UX Designer, Paid Media Specialist, 15+ Years of Print and Web Design Expertise

June 17th, 2020 min read

How long has it been since there was anything remotely new in the world of email? I’ll make it easy, a long time. Every now and then something might be re-skinned or have a new name, but essentially it is the same.

We’ve come to accept that email is what it is. 

Well, Basecamp just introduced a new way to email called HEY, and for once, it really is different. Really different.

The overall philosophy of HEY is that we should not be getting as many emails as we currently do and HEY makes it easy to have full control over that. Control is what sets HEY apart from other email services.

How it works

Yes, this would be your new email address if you take the plunge with HEY. Even shorter than!

If someone emails your @HEY address for the first time, it’s not a done deal that it will even get through. You decide if it gets through. Their email will land in The Screener, which is kind of like screening phone calls. This is where it's up to you. Thumbs up or thumbs down. Yes and it's in, No and you’ll never see it again.


If you deem the email acceptable, there are three places it could go.

1. The Imbox (Not a typo — short for Important box)

The important emails you want to read immediately go to The Imbox. These are emails you actually want to read, from people and services you absolutely want to hear from. 


2. The Feed

Non-urgent email like newsletters, promotional emails, and occasional reads go to The Feed. This all gets turned into a casual newsfeed you can read through with everything already open as you scroll.


3. The Paper Trail

Things that you rarely need to read go to The Paper Trail. Things like receipts, order confirmations, and service notifications are all in one place. 


“Reply now” and “Reply later”

Below every email is a button that says “reply now,” and a second labeled “reply later.” This is where this HEY experience gets really interesting. If you don’t have time to respond to an email, select reply later and it will be added to a “stack” at the bottom of your window. The stack is always there but stays out of the way as a button.  


When you click on the button, all the emails you’ve marked as reply later fan out. You can click on any of the emails individually to respond to an email or you can click on the Focus & Reply button underneath.

This lines up every email in your Reply Later stack, all open on a single page, with a reply box next to each one. This allows you to respond to each one without being distracted by anything else.


With typical email services, people usually leave an email as unread, star it, or flag it and have to go searching for it later. This solves the problem of feeling like you’re drowning in a deluge of emails instead of getting ahead.

Finding files

There’s no need to dig through emails anymore searching for a specific file. HEY has an attachment library that gathers up every attachment you’ve ever received in one organized, sortable place.


Blocking spy trackers

HEY also has a novel take on privacy. 

HEY blocks all tracking pixels, disabling read receipts and other surveillance. You read that right. HEY does not mess around with privacy. In fact, Basecamp thinks email tracking should be “illegal, and punishable by law.”


In most cases, people sending you email with spy pixels to your HEY account won’t know if you opened their email, when you opened their email, or how often you opened their email.

This is a very different world for marketers who rely on this data for their overarching strategies. 

For instance, people use HubSpot for lead nurturing workflows to take prospects who do or don’t engage and lead them down a path of emails to help convert them.

Similarly, in e-commerce, Klaviyo does abandoned shopping cart recaptures.

What will happen to these elements of the digital marketing ecosystem if tracking is rendered useless? 

A remarkable email service like no other 

More than 50,000 people are already on the waiting list to try HEY.

So far, the demand is there. But is it enough to start an avalanche of other email services rethinking their platforms? Maybe. It was bound to happen one day. Email has been stagnant far too long and the HEY team became obsessed with how to improve it.

As Jason Fried, Basecamp CEO puts it:

“It's time to push back. You deserve control over who can email you. You deserve to read your email without a marketer looking over your shoulder. You deserve an ad-free Imbox. And you deserve a company, and a product, with interests aligned with yours.”

Well, there you have it. 

HEY is $99-a-year. This is a steep price for people that are used to our normal options, but a reasonable price for people looking for a new email experience.

There is much, much more to HEY. If you’re really curious for an in-depth product walkthrough, here’s a video from Jason Fried, Basecamp CEO:

All images courtesy of Basecamp.

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