WHY I HOPPED AWAY FROM TIMEHOP11 months ago
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
About two years ago or so ago, I was introduced to a new service called TimeHop. Such a brilliant concept, so ingenious in its simplicity: Send a daily email to subscribers that tells them what they did a year ago. Genius. I quickly became 100% addicted, and it was the first email I'd read after the HARO. The guys at TimeHop stumbled upon what I had already learned - If you create great content, people WILL read it.
It's what I call EgoEmail, and it's similar to what I built with HARO, in that we read that which can greatly impact us the most. People open the HARO each day because it gives them the chance to get famous, people opened the TimeHop email each day because they like to read about themselves. We're a narcissistic bunch, we are...
Eventually, TimeHop launched an iPhone app, which I downloaded for my iPad, but didn't really use much, because a) I have an Android, and b) the call to action with an app isn't anywhere near as strong as with an email. An email sits there, in your line of vision, and each day screams "YOU MUST READ ME NOW!" An app is like the weed-smoking brother of email, who says, "Yeah, if you happen to remember, you can come chill with me, if not, it's cool, no worries." There's no URGENCY to an app, EVEN IF you allow it to send you notifications.
So imagine my surprise last month when TimeHop announced "Hey, we're dropping email, as of next week you'll have no choice but to use the app."
I was like, "say what?"
The email WORKS. Why lose it?? (I'm not even getting INTO the fact that they don't have an Android app yet...)
I just don't understand the logic. Why dump something that's not only NOT broken, but working BETTER than your alternate solution ever could?
If the majority of your early adopters were using email, and you then kill email, you're assuming that they'll all "come around." That's a glaring error.
There are two parts to TimeHop's mistake here: 1) Email will continue to always be the killer app. Texting is fun. What's App is adorable. Even Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare and SnapChat have their place in the world. But when my alarm goes off at 4:45am in the pitch blackness of the early morning and I reach for my phone, I don't scroll to find an app. I read my email first. I always have, I always will, and so does the rest of the world. I might just scan my email and then go see what the world Tweeted last night, but I always go to my email first.
Before TimeHop switched to their app and killed the daily email, I read it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Had they put an advertiser on that email? I would have seen it. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It would have been the first thing I saw, I would have archived it (I saved a ton of my TimeHop emails, since they were just such fun reminders) and I would have totally known the advertiser names.
I did a quick self-survey this past month after TimeHop killed email. You know how many times I opened the app? Eleven times. Eleven times in 30 days. Compared to 30 times in 30 days. I just don't see the urgent fun in TimeHop anymore. If I happen to be on my iPad, and I happen to have finished all my Words With Friends turns, and I happened to have finished all my Running With Friends turns, and I happen to not have any new email in my box, and I happen to not have any Facebook updates to look at, or Twitter replies to read, then I might swipe over one screen, go to the "utilities" folder, open TimeHop, and read about my day last year or the year before. If all those things line up, then TimeHop gets a viewer.
The second mistake TimeHop made was not knowing their audience, and making a drastic change without involving them. Know your audience, and don't give up what they love for any reason, unless you're willing to accept the consequences. Considering that TimeHop virtually OWNED my eyeballs EACH DAY with their email, and now they're lucky if I visit once a week, I'd say that's one hell of a consequence.
Want me back, TimeHop? Bring back the daily emails, that which hooked me in the first place. Otherwise, well, heck - I'll just let my memories remind me what I did a year ago.