3 Lessons Tech Companies Can Learn From Gmail


I remember when Gmail was first announced by Google. I don’t think I was the only who rolled his eyes at the news. After all, Hotmail and Yahoo mail already dominated the online mail market. In between these two were almost a hundred other public email providers. Did I really need another email account Boy, was I wrong.

After getting in on the ‘invite only’ round of Gmail recruitment, I quickly found out that this was not your typical @DOMAIN email service. I knew I was dealing with a  superior product when Gmail succeeded where my other public email addresses failed-spam detection and clean up. Spam truly is a hardy pest. While Yahoo and other mail services tried to crack down on it, it was like playing whack a mole. It seemed almost impossible to kill. Gmail was able to do it. I hardly get spam now. I can count the incidents with the fingers of one hand. That’s how effective Gmail is.

In fact, fact, I am so happy with this service, I use it for all my POP mail addresses. I don’t use hotmail anymore and I barely touch Yahoo mail. Gmail’s persistence and evolution from a mere ‘me too’ product to a service standard contains three key lessons the rest of the tech world can learn.

Leverage Your Brand

Before gmail, Google was primarily a search engine company. It is a highly respected brand because it succeeded where other search engines failed-producing actually useful results. Google’s brand grew and grew since people associated it with trustworthiness and reliability. Google wisely leveraged its brand to roll out Gmail.

Make no mistake about it, while Gmail embodied many new innovative technologies, it would not have made much of a dent in the market if it did not carry the Google label. Google’s massive brand and huge user base made more people open minded about trying out Gmail.

Integrate With Your Other Services

Get it through your head: Google is not search engine or online services company. What is it then? It is an ad company. That’s right-all its activities online are aimed at getting you to identify your interests and show you ads that are geared towards those interests. That’s why Google racks up billions every year. Gmail, far from being an experiment that makes no money or a vanity project whose existence depends on the whim of a top executive, was quickly integrated into Google’s ad serving infrastructure. Brilliant move.

Now, advertisers can market to people based on what they are thinking. Sounds far-fetched? Not really. When you write an email and someone responds, Gmail’s ad system picks up the context and keywords and serves up relevant ads. Google ads hit you when you are thinking about a specific subject. Genius.

Continuously Innovate

Google could have easily rested on its laurels when it became clear Gmail is going to overtake Hotmail. But it didn’t stop. It kept rolling out new updates and new service innovations. Sure, some of these experiments have to be later abandoned or dialed back but, on the whole, the drive to innovate continuously increases the chances that Gmail will remain the free web-based email industry’s top dog.

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