RIP Email Marketing as we know it.
Facebook just released its Project Titan, which is their email ISP platform. It allows users to have an @facebook.com email address that integrates directly into their Facebook account.
This is genius on Facebook’s part. It keeps the user logged into Facebook that much longer. Now they can share photos of the kids, chat, get “where r u” updates from check-ins, see who likes what pages of the internet, who’s in complicated relationships and nasty break-ups, play some dumbass Zynga games, and give up all their privacy rights without realizing it… AND now check their email at the same time.
What’s different about this system vs. Gmail, Hotmail, AOL and others is that each user serves as their own gatekeeper. Only messages from connected Facebook friends and conversations initiated by the user are allowed in the inbox by default. Any third-party messages are sent to an “other” box. And if the domain/ISP/brand isn’t trusted by FB’s postmaster yet, it doesn’t even get delivered. At least the FB postmaster does send a gracious bounce response back to the sender stating the user doesn’t like you yet so you can’t talk to them.
In a discussion thread with some colleagues, I talked about how this is changing the game of email marketing:
“They aren’t dealing with false positives, at all. Every message from someone who isn’t already a connected friend on Facebook goes directly to your junk box. You have to manually let third-party senders into your inbox with a rule.
In theory, this makes their junk box actually have a higher intrinsic value than other ISPs. Habitually, I never check junk boxes. But now, I’ll feel a need to because ALL mail from new senders will filter there by default.
In dog training, they call this behavior modification.”
The response: B F Skinner would be proud of Zuck.
My mother-in-law sent me a quote today that happens to be from one of my all-time favorite transcendental authors. It was entirely appropriate timing too, as I just started my latest venture Murphy Group Media. I have to say, I couldn’t agree more!
… if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. ~Henry David Thoreau
I wish I had resources to develop ALL my ideas. Almost six years ago I jot down a few diagrams and notes for a service that would put the likes of foursquare, Gowalla, loopt, yelp, urban spoon, and others to shame. (Sidenote: I wrote about Dodgeball 5 1/5 years ago. They died as predicted, but not exactly how I thought it would.) MY concept would help increase foot traffic to local businesses, increase the loyalty of local patrons, and could be used in urban and remote towns the same. I just uncovered my notebook recently while I was moving around a few boxes and rediscovered a lot of ideas I scribbled down. This idea is just as solid today as it was six years ago. And it will still be viable 4 years in the future. So another multi-million dollar idea put back on the shelf until the timing is right for me. That’s okay, these ideas are “a-dime-a-dozen”.
Sometimes, you have to jump at opportunities even if it means you personally won’t reap the benefits. If you don’t you may never see your vision come to light. This year I lucked into such an opportunity. I had hired a very talented team of SEO’s and developers to build a network of websites for my employer. While we did pretty good at building the traditional sites that my company was familiar with, we were missing our killer app. We had nothing that set us apart from the many, many competitive sites in our industry. The main challenge we faced was that we didn’t have a core community website that we could use to leverage trust and authority from the search engines. This authority site had to be unique, and it couldn’t just be another blog, forum, or directory. Those are all done and dated already. We needed a different type of site. As I’ve faced this exact challenge in the past with many different clients, it’s no surprise I already had an idea for the type of site we’d need that would bring the power and authority to get the rankings we were after. Now was the time to build it, even if it means that I’d be giving my prized idea to my company as intellectual property. But, that’s part of why they hired me, to bring all my ideas that can benefit us directly and put them on the table.
I did some research and discovered it would cost us almost six figures to purchase the licensing and custom development for the type of site that I wanted to build. So I talked it over with my developers and did a quick feasibility analysis. This could be done! I told my team that this was a second priority to any other projects they were assigned. I have some brilliant developers. They were able to conquer all my projects ahead of schedule, beating my most unrealistic expectations for deadlines. They built facebook app after facebook app, all the top priority sites in queue, and a lot of single one-off projects from me and from corporate. I have worked with a lot of great developers in the past, but these two have truly shown me they are two of the best. So with a lot of projects cleared off the board, and an initiative to focus only on projects that would benefit us in SEO, I gave the guys a greenlight to work full-time on the project.
This week we are ready to launch the main project, and it’s supporting sister sites, to the public as beta. I’ll be posting about it soon as an official announcement. Stay tuned!
BTW – As much as I honor my development team in this post, I can’t say enough about the fantastic marketers that I have that make up the rest of my team! They too are brilliant, motivated, and bring a very unique set of skills and talents that contributes to the unique nature of the team. Some of our projects haven’t panned out exactly like planned, but it isn’t because of a lack of trying or lack of talent. The industry we are in is truly a bitch and very competitive. But, with the launch of our new project, I expect some great things from the result of an entire-team marketing effort in a very short amount of time. So, as before, stay tuned!