How Will Gmail’s New Tabs Impact Email Marketing?

Jul 31, 2013 | Community building, Marketing, Public relations

Gmail’s move to the new tabbed inbox layout has many marketers freaking out. They’re worried that all of their company’s emails will fall into Gmail’s new “Promotions” tab and their hard-won opted-in readers will stop reading.

Just in case you’ve been on a long vacation and missed the news about Gmail’s layout, here’s a quick recap. Gmail sorts incoming email into default tabs of Primary, Social and Promotions. Of course, promotions are where the deals, offers and promotional emails go. Naturally, marketers fret that the messages won’t show up in the inbox and folks will ignore messages in the Promotional tab, which will lead to a drop in ROI.

First, take a deep breath. It’s not as bad as it looks. And besides, isn’t it better to do something about it than waste time and energy fuming, which accomplishes nothing?

Second, how many customers do you have with Gmail addresses? One client who has a B2B company said it was a tiny percentage.

Third, your emails are either awesome or awful. Nothing can change that. Readers who want the awesome email will make sure they find it.

OK. All better now? Let’s get to business. You can educate readers and do a little work behind the scenes to ensure your open and click rates don’t see a downward trend.

Educate Readers

Some customers may have turned off the tabbed inboxes. Some may not know about it. (They may not have it yet.) What you can do is educate your readers by creating a blog post or post an article on your website. You can also send an email.

A colleague sent an email with the subject: “No way – are you serious?” The well-written email is personable, explains the tabbed thing in two sentences and says, “You don’t want important marketing tips to skip your attention, right?” Next comes the steps of what she wanted them to do.

Here are the instructions you can send to Gmail subscribers to ensure they receive your emails:

  1. Click on the Promotions inbox tab.
  2. Drag emails from folks you want to hear from (hope that includes us) and drop them into the tab that says Primary.
  3. Gmail asks if you want future emails to go into your Primary inbox, click yes.

And then close with a friendly note along the lines of, “Thanks for sticking with us.”

You could go so far to educate them on how to disable tabs. Since this comes from Google, it may be worth share with your subscribers.

Fix Things Behind the Scenes

This calls for reviewing your subscription process. After a customer signs up to receive emails from a company, some email service providers serve up a landing page that gives instructions on how to whitelist the email address based on the person’s email address. So if you have a address, it gives instructions for whitelisting in Gmail.

So you’ll need to check the email instructions and remind Gmail users to check the Promotions tab. If you offer products, downloads and other goodies, let them know to check the Promotions tab for the content.

Work through your subscription and confirmation process to see where you can gently let readers know how to find your stuff and what action you want them to take so they don’t miss a single thing from you.

Also check your “from” name field. If you’re already using a recognizable “from” name, you’re ahead of the game. If not, change it. Better yet, make it from an individual in your company and include the company’s name, such as “Judy Schramm, ProResource.” People connect more with individual names than just a company name.

Do, Watch and Adjust

There have been scores of articles on this topic. Most think it won’t change anything. Some see good things. Very few had negative feedback. Just take action and watch the metrics as marketers always do.

Who else should read this? Please share!

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