There’s been recent discussion about whether Gmail’s new divided inbox will hinder the efforts of marketers. Why would this be a potential issue for email marketing initiatives? The new feature to Gmail’s inbox automatically sorts emails by type, putting promotional emails into a separate tab. While some marketers reported an initial increase in promotional email open rates, many experienced an undeniable decrease soon after the feature was announced. (A phenomenon some believe is due to the feature’s short-lived novelty).
I believe there are some advantages to marketers with this new divided inbox. To understand where I’m coming from, let’s look at why Gmail made this change in the first place.
Why The Gmail Inbox Changed
Gmail posted an article on their blog describing how the changes to the interface created “a new inbox that puts you back in control.” Like other brands, Google wants to increase customer satisfaction and their audience’s preference for their tools. As emails ranging from payment confirmations, promotions, and social notifications continuously flood our inboxes, it can be a difficult and frustrating task to filter these emails. It can make us feel out of control and annoyed. Gmail’s divided inbox gives the email recipient control of what they view and when they view it.
How A Divided Inbox Could Benefit Email Marketing
- It could decrease unsubscription rates. Because email recipients won’t be interrupted with promotional emails during times that are inconvenient or distracting for them, this should decrease the number of email unsubscription rates. As people are trying to filter through emails and discover what’s important to them at the moment, they can become frustrated when email after email pops up. It doesn’t mean that they don’t want to receive offers, discounts, and educational materials. It’s just that they may not want to receive them when they are trying to meet a tight deadline for work. Gmail’s new divided inbox will keep those emails separate so the recipient doesn’t feel bombarded when they don’t want to be – and thus decreases the chance they’ll unsubscribe from emails.
- It could increase click-through-rates. While open rates are important, click-through-rates are just as significant, if not more so, to email marketing metrics. The benefit to having a divided inbox is that when the receiver does choose to take a look at their promotional emails they’ll be more likely to take action because they’re in that frame of mind. So even if open rates decrease, or recipients are slower to open these emails, it should mean that click through rates increase. Email recipients will be more likely to self-qualify for offers because they’re in the frame of mind to receive them.
- It pressures marketers to be more creative with their Email copy. Some brands have been asking their email recipients to move their emails to their primary tab, causing marketers to be more creative and direct in their email taglines. A great tagline can, and in many cases does, have a direct correlation to open-rates. Gmail’s divided inbox raises the bar for marketers to be more creative and establish more incentive for email recipients to open emails.
Part of a marketer’s job is dealing with change and turning disadvantages into advantages. I think we should be focusing on some benefits we could reap from Gmail’s new divided inbox. I mean, do we really have a choice?
Time will only tell how Gmail’s new divided inbox will affect email marketing efforts. My advice is to continue monitoring your analytics and put the email recipient’s convenience first. Isn’t this why Gmail changed their inbox to begin with?
I’m interested to hear what changes other marketers are experiencing in their analytics since the new changes to Gmail’s inbox took place. Did you experience an increase or decrease in email open rates? How has this affected your click-through or conversion rates – and how are you using these changes to your advantage?
Share with us your story and what’s working for you. Leave a comment, I’m interested in knowing.
Author: Katherine R. Dollar (@KRDollar) is a digital marketing consultant sharing her discoveries in technology, psychology, strategy and leadership to bring audiences the most relevant and up-to-date information on industry trends.