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Google scrambles for Gmail users through Email Intervention campaign: Is it to build substantial user base for Google Plus?

After some forgettable bitter experiences in the past, Google once again dared to try its luck in social product space. As soon as it launched Google Plus, tremendous amount of hype was created in the social media space, as it was available on a invitation basis only. Google Plus was available to only Gmail users, unlike other social media platforms where a user had a luxury to create account with any email id. This made me wonder, if it was the right strategy adopted by Google. I felt that it could be a strategy of making Gmail users feel privileged and probably if Google Plus succeeded, Google would have expected that it would further fuel other email users to shift to Gmail. However, it seems that Google soon has realized that this strategy might not work. I had my conjectures satisfied, when I saw this below message on Gmail homepage.

This message clearly disappointed me, and made me wonder how can such a successful company with huge number of products in its basket, strategize in such an immature manner. Yes, Google has probably now realized that with just 250 million odd Gmail users it would be tough for it to realize its dreams of becoming a successful social product against giants like Facebook who already have more than 750 million users. Let’s take a break and ponder why couldn’t Gmail attract more users, even after availing its product for any user since February 2007. I feel, Gmail should have thought about this much earlier even before launching Google Plus. Now, the giant innovative company looks desperate to gather Gmail users and probably hopes that these new users would soon hop on to Google Plus. This also gives an indication that probably Google has no plans (at least in near future) to make Google Plus available with open ID facility.

Google has termed this Gmail user acquisition strategy as “Email Intervention”. When you reach this website, you could see a video wherein Dr. Richard Muscat, Intervention Specialist details with the objective of this Intervention campaign. He advocates Gmail users to convince a particular non-Gmail adopted in one’s personal network to shift to Gmail (however, he doesn’t provide convincing reasons for a user to switch). The message is very aggressive in nature, with no real basis for a user to switch. Though Google is adopting such a blatant defensive strategy, the message in video has been made sure to be as aggressive as possible.

I went through the entire process of this and captured some screenshots of the same. Once you decided to invite some of your non-Gmail user colleague to Gmail, and clicked on the link, it would take you to the below page.

Now, the beauty lies in how the campaign offers three different kinds of messages a user could choose to convince the non-Gmail user – 1) A helping friend, 2) A worried friend, 3) An embarrassed friend. The text of these messages are in the following three images.

Message 1: I’m here to help

Message 2: I’m worried about you

Message 3: You’re embarrassing me

After you choose one of the above messages, you could preview your message, which looks similar to that of below image.

You could edit the message further, or you could send it and you would receive the notification as below.

This is a classic case wherein two online products are dependent on each other. It would be a wise strategy to link both products if you have real huge number of users on one product. But, if Google thought that it could take on giants like Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn with just 250 million odd users in its army, it clearly missed the bus and now desperately making up for it. It would be interesting to see till when Google persists with its current strategy of providing access to Google Plus for only Gmail users.


I am presently employed as Associate Director (Paid Media) at Performics.Resultrix, a Publicis Groupe company. Prior to this role I was employed with HCL Technologies as Senior Manger (Digital Marketing). My earlier digital marketing assignments were with ZenithOptimediaIndia (Publicis Groupe) and AdGlobal360. You can follow me on Twitter @anandan22 for all conversations on digital marketing.

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