A Gobble approach to email

In 1621, a few hundred Pilgrims and Native Americans sat down to celebrate a bountiful harvest. The feast lasted three days, and included fowl, venison, fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, and plums. There was no pumpkin pie, however. There was also an alarming lack of user-friendly webmail services.

Now, 383 years later, it’s once again time to celebrate what has come to be known as Thanksgiving a time to gather with family and friends and give thanks for all that we have. We have many things to be thankful for. But mostly, we are thankful for you our users who remind us of why we work so hard all year and why we love what we do. That’s better than all the dried fruit and clams in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for making our approach to email yours.

Gobble gobble,

The Gmail Team

This appeared on my Gmail login screen. Almost brought a tear to my eye.


Building an Army

Today’s currency is information. We live in the information age.

The company that delivers the most information to consumers will dominate this era.

It’s now a question of who will come out on top. Whose platform will work?

Google is starting to take a serious dive in this direction. Within the last year and a half Google has acquired/launched Blogger, Google News, Google Desktop, GMail, Picasa, Google Groups, Google SMS, Google Local and Froogle.

There are rumors flying about what’s next. Google does Instant Messaging? A mozilla based Google web browser? A Google operating system?

I’m convinced they can turn the standard ideas in computing completely upside down. Imagine a web based operating system that didn’t require 512MB of ram to run at a decent pace. The idea of a Google OS is too much for me to fathom right now.

But really, I’m just hoping they don’t let money ruin them. Google’s IPO seemed very promising – the terms of the offering seemed to be much more long term than the typical new technical company. I thought, “Finally, a company that realizes by refraining from the immediate greed will make them all much more wealthy in the long run.” While the terms of the IPO were reassuring, I think we all can look back at the dot com bust and be a little afraid.

Photoshop Anagrams

SomethingAwful is a wonderful place that aims to offend as many people as possible.

They boast much better photoshop contests than FARK and their newest Photoshop Phriday articles entitled “Anagrammed Movies 2” certianly prove it.

My pick from part 1 (The Italian Job)

My pick from part 2 (Say Anything)

Full Contest, Part 1
Full Contest, Part 2

GMail: A Familiar Face

Scott asks:

What will the imminent gmail launch spell for e-mail marketers?

E-mail marketers will have to research their audiences further in order to be effective. E-mail marketers will also have to adhere to some guidelines in order to be seen/heard by users of GMail. Guidelines like document semantics and text-equivalent representations of images, but I never talk about those…

Images in e-mail advertisements are going to be much less effective. By default, GMail does not display images from external servers. Take a look at the link and tell me alt tags aren’t important. Sigh. Moving on…

E-mail Marketers rely on HTML code to spice up their advertisements – and to track their e-mails. The problem here is going to be semantics. If your e-mail is easily machine readable it has a better chance of being found by an e-mail search than an e-mail that is not ‘well-formed’. This goes back to something I preach a lot – heading tags.

, etc. are going to tell the Google machines that something is important.

Back to audience analysis: What type of product do you have? How does your potential customer use e-mail? Specifically, how does your potential customer use e-mail relating to your product’s keywords?

Here’s a scenario to illustrate the importance of these questions:

Let’s say Sheila works for Twin Hills, LLC and she’s in charge of a marketing campaign. Based on a server log analysis coupled with customer feedback, Sheila is privy to an e-mail newsletter called “Car Collectibles Weekly” that has my audience’s attention. The newsletter evaluates new collectibles, discusses preservation of collectibles, etc.; according to the Car Collectibles Weekly website they have surmised 1,500 subscribers. She inquires with the newsletter about potential advertisement, and also offers to write a feature article “straight from the horses mouth” in order to give Twin Hills some more exposure.

She also invests in some Gmail AdWords – users reading this newsletter are probably interested in expanding their collection, but more importantly e-mail newsletters typically aren’t mission critical to the user. Reading an e-mail newsletter is a leisure activity. Reading an e-mail from your boss, father, etc., is usually important.

The difference between mission critical email and non-critical email is very important. Which type of e-mail is more probable to have the recipient look around the screen? With critical emails, often you just want your information and that’s it. Non-critical e-mails do not have user’s eyes glued to the portion of the screen where the message is – instead the eye is probably going to wander to the advertisements displayed on GMail.

While audience analysis is a critical aspect of any marketing, the influx of users GMail will get simply based on word of mouth will make their Ad Words that much more lucrative. The difference maker could very well be semantics. The GMail login screen encourages users to search instead of sort. Google’s powerful search technology will find the e-mail for the user. But, since Google’s search algorithms blatantly like semantics getting your email found (with a high ranking) will be just as dependent on semantics.

Not So Evil Empire

Now that my soul belongs to Google (read: email, maybe half of my web surfing including news) I’ve found myself sometimes wondering why my tech side is now dependent on the giant.

They have definitely won me over with their GMail system – efficient, simplistic, and crazy storage. They’ve won over the market with their uncanny ability to be a “media” firm and produce a profit.

This week they rolled out a new Blogger system, complete with impeccable quality user experience/design and standardized code under the hood.

If the one of the smartest and most productive tech companies in the world’s assets are essentially valid XHTML 1.0 STRICT (with probably 10 minimal errors that look like they’re left over from their server) – Google’s team followed current standards.

So, all they’re really doing is being “good”. Sure, they innovate. Sure, their server farms are probably distributed computing masterpieces…but the underlying principle that keeps me on the bandwagon is that I can trust Google.

I’m not saying Google is perfect – I’m not saying blogger is perfect (I won’t ditch MT that easily) – PageRank is flawed (what algorithm isn’t?). GMail actively discriminates against the blind. Blogger is not geared towards me (BTW, I wonder what this will do to TypePad). I’m just saying that my benefits as a super picky user outweigh the drawbacks.