Results are rolling in on the effect of Gmail tabs

While it is still too early to make a definitive judgement, it seems that Gmail tabs may not be so bad for email marketers after all. Last week, Internet Retailer reported the good news in an article citing the results of a Return Path survey, “Gmail’s new tabs for filtering e-mail have done marketers little harm,”

It was the title of the subsequent article in WebProNews, however, that told the most important story, “Gmail users who were already engaging with marketing emails are doing so more with the new tabbed interface.”

Gmail tabs actually appear to be benefiting email marketers who send engaging emails, which is great news, but are having the opposite effect on lesser engaged subscribers. The takeaway is clear - whatever you’re doing right, do more of it! 

So who’s already engaging with your emails and what are they responding to? It’s critical to know not just to maintain and grow engagement with Gmail subscribers, but to optimize your email campaigns overall. In fact, now is the perfect time to begin closely monitoring your results and testing what works best to maximize email engagement in preparation for the busy holiday sending season.  

Another important finding from the Return Path survey is that the impact of Gmail tabs may not be as great as anticipated because of the growing number of emails being opened on mobile devices which are not affected by Gmail tabs, That speaks to the importance of responsive design, which is something you should also be considering if you haven’t already.

Our recent whitepaper, “Reach Your Holiday Shoppers the Right Way with Reponsive Design,” and upcoming webinar, “Reaching Holiday Shoppers with Responsive Design" will both tell you what it is, how it works, why it’s so important and how to do it effectively.

There are sure to be more studies and comments on the effects of Gmail tabs in the coming months, and we will continue to comment on them. Stay tuned to Listrak Insights for the latest.   


More on the effect of Gmail Tabs on email marketers

At first blush, email marketers may be dreading the implementation of the new Gmail tabs as yet another challenge in the quest for subscriber engagement. But as a recent article from Practical eCommerce points out, there may be a real upside, as well. The article also points out that while only time will tell what the impact will be for eCommerce merchants, with proper planning, any negative impact can be promptly identified and addressed.  

Read the full article for details.   

The Inbox Within The Inbox

James Koons

After reading MediaPost’s Email Insider blog post “Marketing In The Age Of The Inbox Within The Inbox”, I was reminded once again of how important engagement is.  All of the major email providers including Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail have implemented new algorithms for deliverability.  The new algorithms are based on engagement and if your emails are not triggering sufficient interaction from the recipient, they may not be delivered.

During M3AAWG’s 27th General Meeting in San Francisco, I learned that many of the major inbox providers have adopted a new algorithm that will calculate deliverability based on a combination of the original email delivery rules (think CAN-SPAM compliance) as well as some new email engagement factors.  These factors include open rates, clicks, unsubscribes, and complaints.  Because these new recipient behaviors are now factored in to the deliverability equation, future emails that you send may be considered SPAM or may not even be delivered at all.  This could occur with subscribers who have previously signed-up (opted-in) to receive your emails!  Also keep in mind that if enough recipients click the SPAM button, most email providers will assume that no one else wants it either.

A goal of Gmail’s Priority Inbox is to rank mail without explicit labeling from the user.  It does this by learning a per-user statistical model of importance and ranking mail by how likely the user is to act on that mail (remember that importance of an email is highly personal).  Some senders have realized that campaigns which specifically target Gmail users really work.  For example, in 2011, an online flower vendor experienced a dip in its Gmail inbox placement rate as it increased mailing frequency around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day and didn’t recover until November 2011.  The following year, they took into account Gmail’s use of sender reputation and user engagement by using subject lines, such as: “Gmail Customer Notice: Open if you missed yesterday’s special discount!” and “Help Teach Gmail to Like us. Give us a Star” – encouraging users to mark the mail as important and thereby increasing the probability of landing in the Priority Inbox.  This vendor started using subject lines targeted to Gmail users at the end of February and stopped in April.  During that time, their inbox placement rate jumped form 35.9% to 95%.