New Gmail Inbox – Good Buzz or Bad Buzz?
With the recent facelift of Gmail’s Inbox, how often users view what are now marked as “promotional email” could spell trouble for mobile marketers. Since it has been recognized by case studies that smartphones have become the preferred email management tool.
Promotional emails are separated out and reside in their own private tab in the new Gmail Inbox. This could mean that marketers sending time-sensitive offers could feel the biggest impact. With Android’s market share consistently growing, marketers looking to reach Gmail users may need to restructure their messaging strategy to be certain that their emails are not getting passed over.
“As a reputable marketer adhering to best practices, you may notice that deliverability may not suffer at all, but viewability may plummet.” said Dave Lawson, director of mobile and digital unification at Knotice, Akron, OH.
Is an Adjustment Warranted?
The projected rate of email opens on mobile devices this year is expected to reach 50 percent. With this in mind, marketers should and are already adjusting their email strategies to make themselves fully compatible with the small screen size of smartphones and the on-the-go nature of mobile users.
Actually, most of these views take place with iOS’s default mail app, (52% on iPhones with iOS6, 28% on iPad and 13% on Android), based on data from Return Path.
Some iOS users may already have the Gmail Inbox app installed on their device.
Also, it is possible that other email providers will follow Google’s lead and introduce a similar design for their inboxes.
Gmail Users emails will now automatically appear under new tabs. (see image)
“With the automated classification of your messages, every message you send counts,” Mr. Lawson said.
“If it seems onerous to rethink for a specific domain, know that these Gmail changes will be mirrored by most other mail clients that are crucial to your email/mobile/digital channel success,” he said.
Will Gmail’s New Inbox Divide and Conquer?
The new default for Gmail’s Inbox will divide a client’s email into various categories, each accessible in an individual tab on the home page. A plus of mobile marketing is it’s ability to reach out to users wherever and whenever they are with time sensitive offers, however, by setting a precedence and because it’s so new, no one really knows yet how often users will be checking their “Promotional” tab.
Still, there are actions that marketers can take to tackle these new hurdles.
Marketers can consider extending time offers or get creative and use dynamic content so that the offer is always current. The content can be updated based on the time that a recipient is opening the email, the user’s location and the kind of device that is used. A company called Movable Ink is offering technologies that enable marketers to switch out graphics in their email when it is viewed by the reader. Typically, email content is fixed once a marketer sends it.
“With the tabbed workflow, now when I send the email at 12, it is probably more likely that my customer is not going to see the message until 4 or 5 or maybe even tomorrow because it is not popping up automatically in their inbox but when they make the time to check what is going on in their promotions tab,” said Jordan Cohen, vice president of marketing at Movable Ink, New York.
Using Movable Ink’s technology, marketers can send a message about a limited-time offer and dynamically swap out the message for anyone missing it with a new message explaining that the offer has expired and including details about another item that is on sale. Though to me this seems more like a “bait-n-switch” tactic, there may be some untapped methods of using this technology reputably.
From a Buyer’s Perspective
Even though buyers may see promotional emails less frequently, they might be in more of a buying mood when they do. If people are looking at mail under the promotional tab, it likely means they have more focused intentions of buying stuff. A stuffed email inbox can always mean people will miss some of the offers you send by utilizing the infamous “right-click…delete” method. With a tab labeled as “promotions”, buyer-types get an immediate sense that behind that curtain is something “on sale”.
“If people click on the promotions tab, it means they are in a higher-intent buying mode,” Mr. Cohen said. “It means they are clicking the tab thinking I want to go and see what commercial offers are waiting for me in my email inbox as opposed to having all email in a single inbox and missing some stuff there.”
Still, certain messages are having an easier time finding their way into the primary Gmail Inbox, meaning they have a better chance of being seen.
For example, many service updates, receipts for purchases, delivery notifications, account changes and the like are still appearing in the primary inbox.
Mail of this type produces higher engagement rates, but marketers typically don’t spend much time optimizing them for mobile, something they may want to reconsider in the near future.
Consider giving these message some finesse when it comes to branding. This includes optimization for smaller screens and touch pads. Make the messages easier to navigate or act upon. This would include pre-filling forms upon click-through, radio buttons and drop down menus, and even offering “click-to-call” buttons for getting in touch with support departments for more difficult tasks.
Will More Mean Less?
Does your message stand out from the crowd? If Google’s fanbase begin to check the promotions tab say only once a day or even less, it is likely to be flooded with other offers by the time they do take a peek inside.
Therefore, marketers will be required to once again think “out of the box” and perhaps send mail more frequently to stay at the top of the inbox. This will mean that marketers will also need to keep watch of their inbox placement rates.
So the way I see it, this new tabbed inbox could be great for deliverability or it could be a disaster. It could be good if more mail is marked appropriately as spam, but it could go the other way if marketer’s don’t take consideration of the new features and it’s capability. Gmail’s spam filters look at engagement as a factor when filtering your email. Send too many out at once to folks that haven’t clicked inside, or at least opened your emails, and you could cause your mail to get delivered to spam.
As a good marketer, you should always maintain your list to be sure it’s fresh and active by having in place a process to deal with “inactives”. I just recently attempted a housecleaning by sending out a new newsletter to my entire list to actually ask people to remove themselves if they weren’t interested in what it is I do. My open rate was a pretty awesome 27.1% so far (industry standard is more like 16.1%) and I only had 4 people unsubscribe over the last 6 days or so. I expect more, but that’s ok, at least now I can be certain my emails are being opened and read by my subscribers!
My Best to Your Continued Success!