Does Google Have A Love/Hate Relationship With Email Marketers?

by , Dec 22, 2011, 12:49 AM
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As we wind down the year, I figured there would be little that would make me stop and take notice. After all, attention is geared toward year-end efforts and 2012 plans. But I am intrigued by the revelation that Google is testing email subscriptions within its paid search results. And it looks like the company is starting with Honda.

There is conjecture that this may only garner a small conversion rate, but I find it interesting that a company that has made it so difficult for email marketers to engage with its subscribers is now encouraging email subscription -- if it can charge the marketer a premium for it (I bet). Email acquisition is a challenge for marketers today (it is typically pretty high on the list of annual goals and objectives). After all, you cannot email your customers if you don’t have their email addresses.

While I was unable to recreate the Honda experience and see it for myself, I still think it is worth a conversation because the possibilities are interesting. For example:

Quality of subscriber. If someone is searching your brand and keying in specific keywords that render your paid search result, they are likely engaged with you at that moment in time. If you can provide the opportunity of email subscription, all barriers and clicks removed, I would predict that those email subscribers would be highly engaged -- assuming that you deliver on their expectations of content and value.

The marrying of email and search. This is Phase 2 of the integration of search and email. The primary integration occurred when marketers really started paying attention to what their customers were searching, and incorporating that in the direction of their email content and focus (you are doing that, right?) -- really a retention effort. Now Google is providing an opportunity to really help marketers acquire subscribers. This could prove interesting for your 2012 email acquisition plans (whose budget does that hit?).

Inbox placement considerations. I have seen nothing about this, but I do wonder: If the subscription is generated via a Google search and the email address is a Gmail account -- does that mean initial inbox placement? Do you come in as Priority Inbox? Hmmmm. Could it be they would take an innocent -until-proven-guilty approach? It wouldn’t stink if that were the case. 

I would love to hear from you all. Have you seen this in action? What do you think it could mean for email acquisition? Successful, inconsequential? What do you think?

5 comments on "Does Google Have A Love/Hate Relationship With Email Marketers?".

  1. Roger Toennis from Liquid Media LLC
    commented on: December 22, 2011 at 11:32 a.m.
    This should scare companies like Constant Contact, SendGrid, MailChimp, etc. Google could carve out a huge chunk of the email marketing market pretty quickly by marrying search results to email subscriptions.
  2. Joshua De La Mata from Out There - International Media Agency
    commented on: December 22, 2011 at 12:45 p.m.
    I bumped into this recently during a Google search and my immediate thought was… it’s clever! My screenshot: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B_QFGq6ugIrIZGE2ZTVjYjgtOTk0NC00ZDk1LWEzMTktM2E0YjY2OTA0YmE1 I am thinking the overall conversion will be good, and will depend largely on the Searcher’s level of intent, and the ad copy (pull power). Some thoughts: 1) With the consumers email address already populated in the form (I imagine this only works when signed into a gmail/google svce) a) It’s convenient. Who does not appreciate convenience? b) Creates a level of trustworthiness 2) Consumers are also used to some searches ending at a site which then asks for an email, to provide the details on what you are looking for. And “receiving” info (you are looking for) in your inbox is always refreshing. If I can get more info with less typing and clicks, I’m likely to opt-in.
  3. Remy Bergsma from MailPlus
    commented on: December 22, 2011 at 3:55 p.m.
    Roger, if you'd have clicked through on the link Kara refers to, you could have seen the recent update to the post noting that Constant Contact themselves are testing with this right now. I wouldn't call that scared, actually. I'd say it wouldn't scare them - just give their clients more options to attract subscribers. ESP platforms would still be necessary for all the email marketing management.
  4. Andrew Barrett from iContact, Inc.
    commented on: December 24, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.
    What you're seeing is actually a new option available to any AdWords advertiser. It seems to have been an available option since about mid-September. Since it's open to all-comers, there is no secret deliverability boost to senders who use the form. The "rules" for Priority Inbox placement apply just the same.
  5. Andrew Barrett from iContact, Inc.
    commented on: December 24, 2011 at 2:16 p.m.
    The real benefit to advertisers for using this option is that if the searcher is logged into a Google account, the e-mail address is pre-populated into the form, which can obviate the need for a separate confirmation e-mail to be sent from the advertiser to the subscriber, a pretty useful advantage.

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