There has been some hoopla in the blogosphere regarding new Gmail tabs over the past few weeks, and I felt compelled to join the conversation. I had a couple spare minutes over the weekend and fished this out of my SPAM folder:
Yes, it's true, Google sent their own product email to my Google for Apps SPAM folder! Something is up with their SPAM filter, but let me get back to Gmail tabs.
Google built Gmail tabs to solve an important email problem: A cluttered, unorganized inbox. The tabs feature automatically sorts incoming emails into three tabs: Primary, Social, and Promotional. Primary is dedicated to communication with actual people whereas Social and Promotional are dedicated to emails from social sites and subscriptions. It seems like a logical addition to the Gmail platform but the change has marketers and small business owners showing signs of concern, with some fearing “the death of email marketing” :)
How might tabs hurt email marketing?
You are now “Promotional”.
Gmail subscribers are finding nearly all emails from marketers and subscription services in the Promotional tab.
Open rates are down?
Some companies are noticing a drop in open rates. We are not seeing a significant open rate change for Gmail subscribers here at Express Pigeon, but we'll keep our eyes on the numbers.
The thrill is gone.
Gmail subscribers no longer get distracted from their email process with your awesome, catchy email titles. You are now two clicks away in a boring Promotional tab.
How might tabs help email marketing?
Subscribers gain control.
Eliminating distractions and organizing the inbox makes it easier for Gmail subscribers to dedicate time specifically to reading email newsletters. Choice vs. interruption means that subscribers should be more focused on your email once they finally open it.
Subscribers are less likely to unsubscribe.
Gmail subscribers no longer need to delete or unsubscribe from marketing emails because of a crowded inbox. They can easily access all subscription emails in the Promotional tab, which should keep them from getting annoyed by inbox interruptions.
Marketers find new competition.
You now compete directly with other marketers in the Promotional tab. Competing with other marketers is easier than competing with friends, family members, and business contacts in the Primary inbox.
Great... So how do I get in the Primary tab?
It's pretty simple. Ask your subscribers to place you there (drag and drop).
So.. what about Mobile??
With more people accessing emails on the go, I wanted to understand how Gmail tabs would be implemented on mobile devices. To learn more, I ran an email marketing test campaign and sent it to myself. I accessed my email via the Gmail app from Google on my Samsung S3 phone. Please, see results below:
Social and Promotional tabs are grouped together on mobile and displayed within Priority email list. (see above)
Bright colors and clean buttons really make the Social and Promotional tabs stand out. As you receive more personal emails, the tabs get pushed down. If you open either tab, it disappears from the list and you have to slide all folders from the left edge of your phone to retrieve them. However, once you get a new email to your Social or Promotional inbox, the tabs re-appear in your inbox!
If anything, Gmail tabs makes promotional emails on mobile easier to access than personal or transactional emails.
Does Gmail tabs really affect email marketing?
Email marketing is not just a “buy this now” cry. It is also great advice to an interested crowd, timely transactional emails, email marketing automation, etc – too much to list. Strong relationships and great content will continue to win.
So.... to paraphrase Mark Twain, I'd say that:
“The reports of email marketing death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Please share your thoughts on the Gmail tabs feature below! :)