Gmail Fine-Tunes Its Viral Marketing

On the Google Weblog this morning, Aaron Swartz posts Get Gmail!
He notes:
It seems a lot of people are getting this message underneath the Google search box:

New! Get Gmail – Google’s free email service with 1000 MB of space.

The (underlined) link is to a page that says:
Since we launched Gmail in April 2004, we’ve been focused on improving the service, relying on our users to spread the word and invite others to try it out. The response has been great, and now we’re ready for some more Gmail users.

<...> As we make room for more Gmail users, we want to first extend invitations to Google users. We’re still working to make Gmail better, so for now, we’re just inviting a small number at random. Looks like that’s you! We’re really excited to share Gmail with you and we hope you like it.
That’s my bolding. That means Google can adjust the proportion of users who see this invitation and who may then subscribe to a Gmail account. Very clever. They don’t want to make a similar huge corporate blooper to what AOL did when it offered unlimited bandwidth. However Gmail is free so it’s not a question of getting sued.

To show how precise this targeting is, just try clicking on the link in the original Google Weblog posting. You’ll now get this message.
The Link Is All Used Up
The link you followed to create a Gmail account has already been used to create an account for Now, its account creating powers are all gone. To create another Gmail account, you’ll need a shiny new account creation link. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Who knew viral marketing could be so finely tuned.

Tags: , , .