Do you attract early adopters? Got 2 minutes to find out?

A recent blog post LeeAnn Prescott – Research Director at Hitwise – brought some interesting demographic info on users of Gmail, Google’s e-mail service, that got me thinking.

I always felt in my gut that people using Gmail were “with the times” and early adopters, comfortable with adaptation and change. SEER is constantly hiring and looking for our next superstar and those who submit resumes from Gmail always get a slight “OK, they are in the know” from me.

Back to the story…LeeAnn’s blog post validated my gut feeling; here are some of her findings:
Gmail users are much more likely to:

  • Be Young
  • Have a high income
  • Be in the early adopter segments

Here are some of their findings for the four weeks ending 4/28/07:

  • 54% of visits to Gmail were from users between 18 and 34 compared to 42% for Yahoo! Mail and 44% for Hotmail.
  • 18% of Gmail’s visits were from those with average annual household incomes between $100,000 and $149,999, compared to 15% from Hotmail and 13% for Yahoo! Mail.

I started thinking have I ever taken an assessment of our percentage of Gmail subscribers to our e-mail list? When you consider that Gmail only started allowing open subscriptions in February of 2007, it is pretty nutty to look at their market penetration, as of today here is our e-mail subscriber breakdown:

  • Gmail: 4.5%
  • Yahoo! Mail: 2.9%
  • Hotmail 2.1%

If you are thinking, OK, So what…here’s what:
Early adopters are all the rage, always have been. Most companies want their products and services in front of early adopters for obvious reasons.

They usually have money and are influencers within their vast personal networks.
They provide the viral effect that is so coveted these days.
They’ve had PDA phones for years, Flat TVs, Bluetooth in their cars, an active digg account, etc.
In other words, they are a demographic most marketers want to get in front of.
So how do you benchmark and know that you are increasing your number of early adopters?

Maybe you could use Gmail as a barometer, benchmark your number of subscribers today and see how the percentages change over time. If you are providing products or information that early adopters seek, you should expect to see increases in your Gmail subscription rates right? If you see a decrease, well that is just a problem you may want to address.

Bloggers take note, most blogs are only read by people you know (I wish I could find the stat, but something like 80% of blogs are not read by strangers, if you know where to find this, please let me know).

It is getting people you don’t know to read your blog that is the hard part. Looking at your number of blog subscribers and setting goals is a great way to make some level of accountability associated with the time spent on maintaining and writing your blog. If you are seeking some other blog goal metrics, Avinash has some great ones.

Under our big RSS Button, you’ll see subscriber numbers, and while 42 subscribers to our blog (as of today) isn’t setting the world on fire, we can set a goal to have 100 by the end of the year and see if we can get more interest in our blog.
To bring it back full circle, the thought behind increasing blog readership is that the people who use RSS readers are more likely to be early adopters and influencers (will forward our blog posts to others), so tracking that and making it one of our goals makes sense for us. If you are selling socks, maybe finding your early adopter quotient isn’t the best use of your time, but if you offer a technology based service, or cutting edge products maybe getting these two figures would be worth benchmarking and evaluating every quarter.

On a deeper level you may even want to market to your early adopter segment differently (segment your Gmail users) and try a test on your next e-mail blast. In an AC Nielsen report they asked what makes early adopters click?

They found four significant characteristics:

  • They like to try new products before others do
  • They try new brands because they get bored with the same old thing
  • They want incentives to try new products
  • They like to be seen as opinion setters

Taking those points above into account, maybe you could run tests on an e-mail segment giving your Gmail/RSS subscribers:

  • A special coupon (knowing that they are likely to pass it on if it is good)
  • An invite only to them to display a webcast / product launch or other special event (always ask them to bring a friend, they love being in the know)
  • For a new product maybe send them a sample/invite to beta launch and get feedback (they love having an opinion)

TAKE THE SEER ARE YOU AN EARLY ADOPTER TEST! Laura posted her top 10 web tools to our blog, let us know in the comments below how many of those tools you have heard of and installed?
These are definitely some early adopter tools!
Got any other ideas on what to do with this new information on Gmail subscribers? Let us know.