Google did something rather amazing with its Gmail service this summer, something that seems harmless enough on the surface (even beneficial to users in some respects), yet it may be a change that creates trouble for e-mail marketers. Have you been into your Gmail box lately? You may have noticed that your inbox is now separated into three major sections (or tabs): Primary, Social, and Promotions.
Going forward, the Primary tab is where Google/Gmail will deliver all of your regular e-mail, person-to-person conversations, and messages. This is, essentially, the stuff we like to read. The Social tab is where Gmail will be delivering messages from any of your social networks or media-sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, and Google+ to name a few). If you subscribe to a dating service, you’ll probably find messages from your service in your Social tab as well. Lastly, the Promotions tab is where all of your e-mail marketing offers, deals-of-the-day, and similar product or service marketing communications will be found. Almost any promotional mail you’ve signed up for using your Gmail address will populate under the Promotions tab. And, the Promotions tab is where you’ll find your daily Google Offers e-mail if you subscribe to that service.
As stated earlier, this seems like a pretty harmless set-up for your Gmail inbox, right? You can modify the way Gmail delivers any future message from any sender by right-clicking the message and moving the message to another tab. Gmail will then give you the option to do this for all future messages from the same sender. And if you’re one of the 425 million Gmail users on the planet, this is a good way to keep your Gmail inbox sorted. It also gives you the ability to view the “important” e-mail messages at a glance. But, there’s a growing concern among marketers that Gmail may be banishing their promotional mail to the Promotions tab where it may not be seen by the end user. At all.
Marketers in offices everywhere are concerned about the new tabbed Gmail interface because businesses around the globe are actively using Gmail as their primary communications platform. How many businesses? Over 5 million.
Business to business communications are done by Gmail, so are business to consumer communications. Gmail is a great email client because it’s cheap and easy to manage. So, when many of these B2B and B2C messages are pre-screened and deemed “promotional” in nature by Gmail and sent to the tab that nobody checks, a great number of communications may be lost, along with associated leads, revenues, etc. Not only that, but the new tabbed interface makes it too easy to “Select All” and send the contents of the entire tab to the trash. But is it really happening or is this just a lot of nervous reaction?
According to research performed by MailChimp, the new tabbed structure for Gmail has resulted in a 7.69% decrease in “open rates” for promotional e-mail. That may not sound like a large percentage, but many business owners will be naturally displeased by the thought that they might lose 7-8% of their business opportunity because Gmail decided to pre-screen their messages and drop them in the Promotional tab. A number of vendors and retailers are campaigning to have their e-mail marketing recipients go into their Gmail settings and permanently move incoming messages from the business to the Primary tab. It’s a good idea, but whether or not it will work remains to be seen.
In the end, Gmail users account for about 18% of all Internet-connected people worldwide. As such, it’s easy to see that Gmail users make up a significant portion of the Internet population, and businesses who are attempting to reach out to Gmail users (among others) are now faced with a growing concern.
This article is brought to you by Rank Fuse Interactive, which serves both businesses and agencies alike as a provider of search engine marketing (SEM) programs, including search engine optimization (SEO), paid search advertising (PPC), social media marketing, content marketing, mobile web marketing, and search-friendly web design.