In the very early days of Google, one of the founders of the magazine WIRED, asked a very young Sergy Brin: “Why are you launching yet another search engine, when we have a perfectly great one, Alta Vista?”
As the story goes, Sergey Brin replied: “We are not building a search engine, we are building an AI.”
That was sometime around the turn of this century, back when everyone was in a panic about the DotCom crash. Seems Google even back then was building what I am about to describe to you now.
And as an email marketer, you better listen up, because I am not talking science fiction here, I am talking Gmail, your number one Inbox that you have got to get to!
And that is the same thing every major computing giant is and has been doing for some time now, from Facebook to Amazon, Apple partnered with IBm to Microsoft and of course Google. These are the “Big 5” in computing today. And they intend to stay that way.
Why Google Is Not What You Think
Some may say Google is an advertising platform, the biggest in the world in fact: And that is true.
Some may say Google is the coolest thing on Earth, that Google just loves us all, and gives us all these cool free tools. And to the average user all the way up to Google Apps users; That is true too.
Cutting to the chase, what is Google really doing?
Google, just like Microsoft, Apple + IBM, Facebook and Amazon (yes Amazon), are out to create a completely unique experience from Google search to YouTube, from Google+ to Gmail, from beginning to end. All controlled by an AI – Artificial Intelligence. And yes I HATE that term because it is misleading and has become a marketing term, used to lure investors, get attention on blogs and social posts and raise stock prices. A rant for another time and place…
While fast and simple, but yet very effective Inbox filters like SaneBox
are simply trained by you and based on your address book and email sending history, the big players in today’s online cloud based computing model have much more up their sleeves.
The plan for these “Big 5 of Computing” as I call them, is to be able to learn from you, to model your actions, predict them and create a computing experience that delivers what you need before you ask for it. The EdgeRank algorithm that filters your Facebook feed in advance for you is a good example of this at work.
Or if you use Google+, the home feed you see is filtered by 50% depending on how many people you follow. Twitter is rumored to follow suit and display your Tweets all judged, filtered and delivered or not, via interest and relevancy filters. And on your phone you can see Google Now using Google predictive and personal modeling algorithms at work too.
Gmail is no different either
So we are no longer talking spam keywords, or out going link URLs, or even linking to a ClickBank offer in your Gmails. We are talking Intent, Context, recipient conversations, friends of said recipients and what conversations they were in. We are talking interest graphs, relevancy scores and your history of +1s, shares, comments, mutes of G+ posts, and the positivity or negativity of such shares and comments.
The earliest term I have heard describing this was “Signal Economy” and I first heard of that phrase thru John Blossom: Here is his article “While You Were Out, The Signal Economy Trumped The Content Industry. Again .”
And that is how I am looking at “Getting to the Inbox” today. Not a static set of spam filters that you have to avoid, but instead a set of signals that tell Google your email is important to the particular and unique recipient.
Mike Elgan says in his article Why Google wants to replace Gmail …
The fact is that Google, and companies like Google, hate unmediated anything.
The reason is that Google is in the algorithm business, using user-activity “signals” to customize and personalize the online experience and the ads that are served up as a result of those signals.
Google exists to mediate the unmediated. That’s what it does.
That’s what the company’s search tool does: It mediates our relationship with the Internet.
Then, after a week with Inbox, Mike Elgan returns to say how much better than Gmail Inbox is…
Your to-do list and email integration is a joy. Your Material Design is so easy to look at. Not only are reminders integrated into the email system, the email system itself is treated like to-do items. When you’re done with either an email or a reminder, it doesn’t feel like you’re deleting email. It feels like you’re checking off a to-do item or filling something away for later.
And speaking of reminders — that autocomplete when you set up a reminder is amazing. I just type in buy and it offers a grocery list. Any reminder shows a list of possible completed items, which — if correct — I can just choose.
And how do you manage to do that voodoo that you do while retaining my old Gmail filters and folders? And you let me set up new filters without making it seem like that’s what I’m doing. It really just feels like I’m filing things into the right categories, then I can tell each category what I want it to do.
And yes, this mediation comes from Google+. It comes from Google Play. It factors in what music you listen to, what books you read on Google Books, what YouTube videos you watch, what YouTube videos you click away from in mid play, what pre-roll ads you watch and which ones you skip. What AdSense and AdWords ads you click, what Google display ads you click elsewhere on the web and what remarketing ads you respond to. Google knows what products you buy, what you don’t buy and what products you prefer, from cat food to what brand of cell phone you carry.
Just go to your local Walgreens and watch people in line ahead of you swiping their Androids to pay with Google Wallet and Apple Pay now too.
Google knows what blogs your leads own, even if it is just through Whois and DNS lookups, what they write about and what and who they link to, what Blogs they read and what Blogs they trust. Google knows brands in email that your subscribers trust elsewhere and can pretty much predict what emails they want to see and what ones you don’t; Before you ever even load Gmail.com
Whether your leads read your emails on an iPhone or an Android, Google knows where you go and who you go there with. Google knows what restaurants they like, which locations they prefer, when they are most likely to go there and of course, since you buy Apps through the Google Android Play store if you carry and Android, they know your credit card number and your billing address.
I mean, you do buy Apps don’t you? You do store a credit card with either iTunes or Google Play right? To initialize your Android phone at the Cell store, you did have to enter your Google username and password? Or maybe you are some secret agent type that carries a burner phone and no one knows who you are? Yeah, that’s how it is. You actually have privacy from the Big 5, huh 007?
And that is what Google knows NOT just about you and your subscribers, but about every single person on the planet that uses Google. Even if you just Google terms not logged into Google, Google still has a pretty good idea who you are, just by your IP address. So does every site on the Internet.
Just like Google knows a lot about your email list, via your email server’s IP address.
Now, think about how much Google knows about you, then take that and multiply it by your email list, then divide by the number of Gmail addresses on it, then multiply that by how many times you email each month. And now you have a percentage of your list that Google basically controls, can personalize more and more in the coming years, and will be personalizing more in the coming months.
Hence, for better email delivery you had best be forming at least general relationships with these people, from the chapter on Google’s Dynamic Spam Filters And Gmail Tabs…
When it comes to getting past Microsoft filters behind the scenes on corporate Microsoft Exchange email servers, and not just at the Outlook.com and Hotmail.com domains, you had best be on Twitter and on Facebook. Remember that BING search and Microsoft email delivery has access to the relationships you have at those two properties.
Do a BING search for one of your major search terms. In the side bar of BING you will see Twitter and Facebook friends and recommended users. Even if you blew off that option when you began using the last few versions of Windows, your email list did not. Especially if they are using Outlook, Office 360 or still have a Hotmail address.
Enter Google Inbox: Gmail Meets Google NOW Meets HAL
Just look at the permissions that installing Google Inbox asks for: Identity (the app needs that to function), your Contacts, your Calendar and your Location. Why on earth would an email app need access to your calendar and your location? Because Google wants to customize your email by what you are doing, where you are doing it and who you are doing it with.
This kind of data is the basis for contextual and intent driven apps. As an email marketer I find that absolutely fascinating and highly useful. If your Google Calendar says that you are busy, would you want your phone to be pushing updates to your Google Glass, your WEARable or your Apple Watch? Well me neither!
The more Google can help me first not bother my subscribers, then go on to get my email in front of them when they are most likely to want and need to see it? Well I am totally down with that, aren’t you?
While Google Now is the #1 personal digital assistant on Android phones, Microsoft is coming on strong with CORTANA and real time alerts that will be just as good if not better than anything Google is and will be fielding in this arena. DO NOT let the Apple or Google fanboy in you, or the same on social posts deter you from looking to this future.
You maybe hating on the new Android watches and the 2015 release of the Apple Watch but mark my words, in the coming years Google Wear and Apple’s Watch will be what makes or breaks email open rates and content marketing.
Jack Humphrey commented on my post: “The Death Of The Search Engine” that: “…for me, is the ironic “so what?” factor on these wearables. This is actually the first time in human history when we were “over it” before there was an “It.” The watches are only marginally better than Glass for UI and what you can tolerate doing with them before you wake up and realize you’re wearing the Kool-aid and not drinking it.” And that is true, this new highly customized world is hard to understand and Jack is very right. But that is exactly why many marketers are not going to “Get this” until it is too late.
Screenshots of Google Now alerts buttons in Google Search: Nov. 3rd 2014
Instead, imagine being the marketer that gets his posts, his emails, his Tweets and the like sent to the wrists of his subscribers? Not sent to their phones that they soon will far more rarely take out of their pockets. Not buried on the desktop computers and email clients like Outlook and Gmail, and definitely not to SaneBox style filters, not to the Gmail promotions tab and definitely not to the spam folder.
Either way, at the Inbox, on your wrist or on your phone, building large social graphs that are not just stranded on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, but instead are directly hardwired to your email list as you will learn in just one chapter here on Email Delivery Jedi it’s your email sever reputation AND your TrustRank within these intelligent networks and algorightms that will be the future of email delivery and the future of making money online.
So… To Sum Up The Future Of Email Delivery–
- Having a hard coded relationship with your email leads on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ is already a must. Now it is a must know secret to email delivery.
- The big 5 of computing, 4 of which control most of the email delivery your list currently enjoys, are going to use demographics, intent and contextual algorithms, relationships on social networks and more right now.
- Artificially intelligent machines that model your behavior are going to bring a web 5.0 to life that completely customizes your experience at the Inbox and every other application they control to new levels.
- The time to build these new relationships with your email list is now, not later when your competition is doing the same!
So it is going to be more important that ever, as social traffic becomes more and more a pay to play world, as the machines decide who sees what and when, that the money is still in the list, and that list has got to Get It To The Inbox now! Not later, not after you get done on Facebook, not after you send that next Tweet, not after you record your next YouTube video. Now!