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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Are Gmail Tabs a Marketer’s Friend or Foe?

    Posted by Angela Suico

    How Gmail’s New Layout Affects Email Marketing

    Recently, Gmail rolled out a new format for its users’ inboxes. Your Gmail now acts as a virtual mail sorter, separating personal emails from social media updates, message board notifications, and confirmation emails. While the new Gmail may be a dream for those who like their things sorted into neat categories, marketers are wondering what will become of their email campaigns. Below is a discussion of the new Gmail and what marketers can do to adjust to the changes.

    Gmail’s New Layout

    For Gmail users, messages are now sorted under three separate groups: Primary, Social, and Promotions. Primary messages are personal emails, the ones you get from family and friends. Social messages are those sent from social networking websites, while Promotions are deals and offers from the sites that you’ve subscribed to. Those are the three default tabs that appear, but you can add two additional tabs: Forums and Updates (where confirmation emails and receipts will be deposited), as well as pick and choose what tabs you want to appear in your inbox.

    Where Does A Marketer’s Email Go?

    While some people love the convenience of having their messages sorted out for them, many marketers are wondering where the new development leaves them. Before, they could count on their email campaigns reaching a spot where a user could easily see it. Now that emails are being sorted, however, they don’t have the same comfort. Any email with an unsubscribe header or an unsubscribe link will inevitably land under the Promotions or Updates tab. Marketers can bypass this, however, by asking users to change their settings so that their emails will always be filed as a Primary message. All a user has to do is drag and drop an email to the Primary tab, or star an email so that Gmail will pick up on its importance.

    A Challenge for Email Marketing

    Several companies have been surveying the effects of the new Gmail on their open rates, and results have been mixed. HubSpot found that open rates for its emails increased by 58.9% in June, the month after the tabs debuted. On the other side of the fence, studies conducted by Constant Contact and MailChimp individually showed that open rates actually decreased. However, both sites caution that since the system is still in its earliest stages, we cannot come to any definite conclusions about Gmail tabs and open rates just yet.

    Ryan Pinkham of Constant Contact says that, if anything, the new layout should just keep marketers on their toes. “Gmail tabs make it even more important that email marketers send relevant, valuable content to the people who have opted in to their list,” writes Pinkham. “Continue to listen to your readers, monitor your click-through reports, and take the extra time to get to know the people who are receiving your emails each month.”

    Write Messages Worth Reading

    Gmail’s changes make now a great time to brush up on the best practices of email marketing. A recent article by Copyblogger, which is always on its toes, has done just that. Here’s a condensed version of their advice.

    1. Make Your Content Great. You know how some comic books have spawned spin-offs and huge, multi-sequel movie franchises? Your content should have the same kind of staying power. It needs to be something that readers will definitely want to read, and like X-Men or Spider-Man, be so compelling that people will want more. Think about the biggest problems that plague your audience, and create content around those issues.
    2. Announce Important Email Messages Via Social Media. In case some users decide not to move your messages under their Primary tab, announce important emails with a social media post. Unlike Gmail content, your messages won’t be filtered out on your social networks. These announcements can ensure users know to check their inbox for important emails from your company.
    3. Embrace Limited-Time Offers. If you put a certain deadline on an email offer, people may feel compelled to make sure they always see your emails. Because who likes learning about a big sale, coupon, or discount after the special has ended? Limited-time offers will make your leads more likely to put your emails in a place where they can see them as soon as they sign in.
    4. Focus on Your Fanbase. As you go further down the sales funnel, the quality of your lead becomes more and more important. On that note, you don’t want to email offers to parties that you know will only give your content a passing glance. Instead, focus your attention on people who are most interested in what you have to offer. There’s very little point in trying to attract someone who’s just breezing through town, when you have a few dedicated regulars who are ready and eager to buy.

    In a sense, this is business as usual. Google is always making changes that require marketers to think creatively and respond with changes of their own. If anything, the new tabs format should lead to increased efforts to reach out to customers and create innovative content and offers. Though we can’t say for certain how email marketing will change over the next few months, we know one thing for sure: As Google continues to make changes to its services, marketers will continue to respond in kind.

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    Topics: Inbound Marketing