Google Payments Will Make Email An E-Commerce Powerhouse

It has been talked about for a long time but now Google has done it -- Gmail users can now email money to one another via their accounts. At the moment that's a very useful feature for settling a restaurant bill or paying your half of a pair of gig tickets, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

There are two huge points that shine out from Google's innovative rollout. The first is obvious. This simply has to be the first step before it is rolled out to businesses. Not only will a brand be able to send out an email offering a discount on its goods and services, but Gmail users will be able to pay for the item direct from the email. Secondly, it just goes to show how email marketing -- the channel so often written off by trendier disciplines -- is at the heart of Google's latest innovation. As Marketing Land recently wrote, it's a major vote of confidence for the channel.

Regular readers will need no reminding of the power of email, but just in case, here's a very quick summary. Social might get all the attention and display and search the lion's share of the digital budget, but an email address is a person's online ID. It's almost certainly the way in which they log in to sites, even well-known social media destinations, and so it's a hugely important way of recognising people. More to the point, it's a great way to strike up a long-lasting dialogue.

Let's not forget, a cookie is dropped on a computer, not a person. Ever wondered why you get so many ads for something your partner is in to? It's likely you share the same computer. With email ID, you identify an individual, not a device. Talking of which, we're in the early stage of being in a mobile-first media landscape and that's where the cookie crumbles. The tag which advertisers have relied on for so long simply doesn't exist in mobile marketing. 

While we're not forgetting, let's remind ourselves that email marketing consistently comes out as the top channel people want to hear about brands through. Even Millennials will generally cite it as their favoured route because it doesn't get in the way of browsing and it's up to the individual when and where they decide to look at messages.

Now, given all this, how does throwing in a payment button on email marketing sound? Pretty amazing, don't you think? The first thing that immediately springs to mind to me are upgrades and extra little bits, subscription renewals and so on. Regular readers will know how much I hate receiving an email that requires the recipient to click to order before asking them for a customer ID, a reference, an email address and so on.

Imagine how much easier it would be if all you had to do to add "Fast Track" security to your plane tickets was tick 'Yes - Pay Here' in an email. The same could apply to almost anything. The insurance for that bike you ordered, the final toy in a series you've been collecting, a deposit on dinner reservations, paying for rail tickets? The list is endless. And then there are even more possibilities once acceptance levels take off and people are willing to spend larger amounts via email.

To cut a long story short, anyone who is still out there banging on about likes and shares and writing off email needs to take a very serious look at this. Gmail users can now send each other money, it will only be a matter of time before that is applied to companies and then email is not only a highly favoured marketing channel, it's an ecommerce and mcommerce powerhouse. 

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