October 7, 2015
A little while ago, Google added the ability for Gmail app users to easily block and unsubscribe from email. It’s a button in the app that extracts the unsubscribe link from an email, then clicks it for you.
The irony here is that the vast majority of emails are sent automatically, anyway, thanks to MailChimp, Pardot, Marketo, Eloqua, SendGrid, and a million other email automation tools.
So this entire interaction is between machines.
There are lots of similar machine-to-machine interactions happening throughout marketing — not just the simple stuff, but to produce and respond to content. Another great example is ad-blocking. Machines place the ads. And the user installs a script that decides what to show and what not to. The key there is figuring out how to get around the machine, and get to the human.
The biggest example of this, by far, is search.
It used to be about “search engine optimization”. In the early days, that meant displaying relevant keywords as much as possible, on your pages. That continued for a really long time. And now what it’s about is backlinks, relevant content, and matching the user’s intent. It’s about a million other things, too, but it’s really about great content.
And yet the decision on what content is “great” — is still mediated by a machine. What Google wants us to believe is that the machine-mediation is so good that it can really understand the user’s intent, and match results to that accordingly. It’s robots all the way down, though.