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?