The new Gmail Inbox: in war with marketers?

When Google announced the redesign of the Gmail Inbox at the end of May, users did not know what to anticipate, and marketeers could never imagine what it involved. Google itself describes the new format as something that “puts you back in control”. The new Gmail Inbox now has five sections: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums, so that you can organize your messages from friends and family, business associates, social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts, and more. The reason for Google was obvious: too much information compete for the attention of the user. And now the user is in control of the information.

primary inbox

It seems that Google needed to find a way to place ads in the Inbox, in a way that users would find engaging and not annoying, and that advertisers would pay for. Right now, ads are put directly into the inbox, they appear under the Promotions tab, and they resemble actual e-mails; they have a shaded background and an “ad” symbol to differentiate them from the other promotional emails and email newsletters. When the user clicks on the ad, it expands within the inbox. So, the advertising world is obviously in favour of the changes.

But what happens with marketeers? Considering Gmail has more than 425 million active users, all marketeers should stay alert on changes and learn how the new layout and functionality works and how it may affect how people see their email newsletters. So let’s see what these tabs are all about:

  • Primary: It has the highest priority in the inbox layout, it appears first, it includes messages from family, friends, and contacts that don’t appear in any other tab. It can also include starred messages.
  • Social: Messages from any sort of social site you use. The emails from social networks, dating websites, and gaming platforms will appear here.
  • Promotions: Any marketing emails you have opted-in will most likely appear here. This is where any deals, offers, and any other promotional email will go.
  • Updates: Automatic notifications of bills, statements, and reminders. Most likely, your monthly credit card statements will appear here.
  • Forums: Messages from any forums or discussion groups you participate in will be placed here.

full inbox

You can select which tabs to have and which not to. Luckily enough, it seems like Gmail “learns” from user preferences, so in case the user drags and drops a message in another folder, and tells Gmail to always send emails from that sender into this folder, next time Gmail will send the specific email under the specified tab. So, with a little bit of direction, the new inbox will learn where to place various messages.

Many marketeers say that now they must ensure the newsletters they send have an eye catching headline, so that they stand out from all other subject lines, under the Promotions tab. The thing is, in order to see the headline, one has to visit the Promotions tab. Will he do so, and how often will that happen? Gmail says email control goes right back where it belongs – in the arms of the customers, that can start engaging with the emails that matter to them. But who says that an opt-in procedure, needs another opt-in procedure, to verify the fact that the user actually needs to engage with certain brands via email? Is it an actual paradox, perhaps an unnecessary procedure, or is it the end of Email as we know it?

Let’s get real

 Some stats: Most emails are now read in iOS Devices, followed by Outlook, Hotmail, Apple Mail, Yahoo Mail and – 6th place-  Gmail with less that 9% penetration. So the new Gmail Inbox does not bring the end of Email. Marketeers just have to evolve.

mobile inbox

How to do that? Instead of waiting between a million of other irrelevant messages in the general inbox, marketers should understand that the moment the subscriber visits the Promotions tab, he is actively seeking for that type of message he has opted-in. Gmail’s filtering is smart, so once your subscribers engage in some way with your email (either open or click on a link), most probably next time it will appear in the Primary tab. So, on the one hand, you have what you needed, at the moment the subscriber engages with you.

So should they just wait for that moment? Of course not. Here’s what more we advice you to do. Prepare and send a set of special email campaigns, to those of your customers that you know they have a gmail account. You can easily find them with our powerful segmentation feature: Just ask to find those subscribers that: “recipient email – contains –  gmail”. Once you have them, try sending a set of campaigns with a clear “call –to–action” asking them to drag your emails to the Primary tab, and to choose to always filter those messages in that folder. That way they will train their Gmail to always put your emails under the specific tab. Show them how easy it is and hope that they will follow your advice.

To sum up, if your subscribers can’t find your email newsletter because now it is placed under a tab, they don’t really care about your content. Be smart, be proactive, use the tools we offer you, and there you have it!

Best of luck!

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