What OWA’s Clutter Feature Means for Email Marketing

A new feature on the Microsoft Office365 email platform – Outlook Web App (OWA) & Outlook – enables users to de-clutter their inbox automatically so they can more easily distinguish important emails in their inbox and have Outlook send promotional or other non-important emails straight to the Clutter folder. Clutter can have a detrimental effect on email marketing campaign performance as from June and on, it is enabled by default to all OWA users.

inbox zoomed shot

This feature is similar to the “Promotions” tab in Gmail with the only difference being that the user has to enable it first in the settings before using it, whereas in Gmail the user is prompted after logging in to use it. However since June 2015, Microsoft has enabled Clutter for all Office365 email accounts.

It is part of Microsoft’s drive to boost productivity in the workplace and make communication and collaboration in workplaces more efficient. They introduced the Office Graph and Delve to boost search and discovery so that users can focus less on trying to find information & documents so their time is better spent on more productive stuff.

The key area focused is Personalisation and Clutter is a tool for personalising email communications for people using the following email products:

– Outlook Web App – OWA
– Outlook 2016 preview
– Office 365 Admin & Office 365 Small Business Admin
– Outlook on the web for Office 365 Business
– Office 365 End User
– Outlook Web App for Office 365
– Outlook Web App for Office 365 Small Business
– Outlook 2013

How Clutter works

Email is automatically processed upon arrival and sent to this folder without the need to include it. Think about it as the “bulk email folder” for promotional emails and newsletters from various mailing lists the user has subscribed to.

According to Microsoft’s website Clutter can also be trained by the user and is part of its machine learning technologies. If certain messages are not automatically sent to this folder, the user can simply right-click and train Clutter to filter similar messages automatically.

The Clutter folder is not prominently displayed in the inbox view but on Outlook’s navigation, along with the sent items, the drafts and the deleted items. Clutter is displaying messages for its activity to the user, prompting notifications on the emails it sent to that folder as part of its drive to improve the overall experience and its effectiveness.

The effect of Clutter in people’s inbox

Microsoft claims that more than one million emails per day have been moved to Clutter, saving users a precious 82 minutes per month needed to scan through important emails. But can this have a serious detrimental effect on email marketing campaigns?

The Office365 suite is primarily used by B2B customers, therefore mainly affecting B2B email campaigns. However once end-users become more accustomed to the new changes in OWA’s interface, they will likely review this folder at less busy times during the workday.

In essence Clutter is trying to mimic user behaviour. It is an attempt to automate what people are already doing, moving emails from the inbox to folders so that they can leave it with only the important stuff.

Similar to Gmail’s Promotions tab, the effect on email marketing metrics did not seem to be as harsh as it was initially expected by marketers. Remember that even Google’s promotional messages got featured there.

What can Email Marketers do to avoid Clutter?

You have certainly heard about content being king! Focusing on what makes people engage with your newsletter is key to success, even to people’s mailboxes with Clutter enabled.
Review your campaign metrics to see which previous emails had good open-rates and curate your content accordingly. After all, if you send primarily adverts and promotional stuff, people tend to trash your emails straight away.

– Focus on the content that was proven successful in terms of open-rates
– Provide great value to your (B2B) subscribers
– Be useful – Send tools and resources that are crucial to their business
– A/B Test your email subject lines to improve open-rates
– Make your newsletter so useful that it can’t be missed
– Send your campaign at the most appropriate time
– Segment your mailing list and change your content accordingly
– Keep your list fresh and clean

There are many more tips and tricks you can learn from in our blog. Moosend’s innovative email marketing platform enables you with powerful features to optimise your campaign and all of its metrics. Give it a try today by opening a free account.

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