The New Gmail Inbox:
Gmail is patting themselves on the back this month, for making life easier on its users, by automatically sorting mail into categories to “put the Gmail user back in control with simple organization.”
While I commend them on their efforts and agree that my personal Gmail inbox is now much cleaner (Thank you Gmail!); professionally speaking, Gmail user-engagement just got a little trickier (What!?)!
With categories like Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums, there is no longer just one place for a subscriber to see new mail, but several sub-inboxes, viewable by clicking on separate tabs within the main inbox. (Which by the way, isn’t quickly accessible from the left side-panel, but only through clicking on the main inbox first and then switching tabs.)
The new Gmail inbox has been gradually introduced to its users over the last month, and experts have already reported the beginnings of a downward trend in Gmail open rates. So while we see a change in the metrics, unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information out there on how to reach the Primary Category. It has been noted that Gmail users not including the Promotions tab to their inbox, will receive all email marketing to the Primary tab, however, Promotions was one of the first tabs users were automatically provided with, and I have to admit, it seems pretty convenient!
I won’t take credit for the idea of filtering emails, but I will say I have been filing away “good” emails already for years, so that I can come back to them at a later time (or when the “Shopping/Recipe/Fashion/Craft” opportunity arises), but most have been left untouched. And I’m pretty sure that Yoga Groupon offer, covered in a thick layer of dust and at the bottom of my “Deals” folder, expired in 2011!
Gmail consoles that there is the option for its users to selectively drag and drop specific senders’ messages to the correct category tab if it seems out of place, but I can’t help but assume that “Promotions” will be the ideal category for subscribers to file away all of those email marketing Campaigns to, for when they get the proverbial “time to go through them all”.
As for your transactional mail, it appears that Gmail put that “option to control” more squarely in the hands of subscribers by not pre-designating the Updates tab to the new inbox. So thankfully, many of your receipts, shipping confirmation, forgot password emails, etc., have a better chance of landing in the Primary category and catching an open, until a subscriber modifies her inbox to include the Updates category, that is!
The new inbox is now available on Android 4.0+ as well as the iPhone and iPad, which combined forms the fastest growing market in the mobile industry, and has already vastly changed the face of email marketing as we know it!
So what does Gmail’s newest innovation mean for email marketers? There is still much to learn on the subject, but a few things we do know. Not only are you now not immediately visible in the inbox even if you’re not going to the SPAM folder, but you’re also pining for attention against all of your subscribers’ email marketers in the Promotions tab; putting added pressure on From Names, Subject Lines and Preview Text to stand out from the competition. This will even place you head-to-head with industry specific competitors as well, since it all goes back to the subscribers’ opt-ins. In my personal Promotions tab for example, I may as well have a Jo-Ann Fabric store right next to a Michael’s craft store! Great for me, but not so great for the weaker marketer.
It’s also more critical than ever to provide content of value to relevant segments, with the hope that Gmail subscribers essentially double [or triple]-opt into your mailings now, by additionally dragging you into their Primary Category, simply because they like you. So put all of our suggested email marketing best-practices to practice (Segmenting by interests, purchase behaviors, and demographic) so that you can provide quality content of value to those targeted subscribers. Get them to look forward to hearing from you, and provide something they will not want to miss! Then on top of it all, you might even suggest in your Welcome Email, or the next Campaign you send to Gmail users, to drag your email to the Primary tab so they never skip a beat!