Email Marketers Fear the New Gmail

new gmail tabsIf you’re a Gmail user, you’ve recently seen the switch in your inbox from one folder to three tabs. In these three tabs lies the “promotions” tab, which now filters out any messages you get containing promotions such as coupons, discounts, and notifications of sales. While this may seen handy for the average user, for email marketers, the response is not so positive. Companies that use email for marketing fear that their promotions will now be read much less often if they are filtered out of a user’s primary inbox tab.

The Promotions Tab

Many marketers view the new promotions tab essentially as a black hole from which their advertisements will never return. Marketing companies are seeing a statistically significant drop in the percentage of promotional emails being opened, but that number is less than 1%. Business Week notes that this new tabbed inbox is great for Gmail in terms of advertising, because they plan to insert up to two paid ads within the messages in each promotions tab. Though these ads can be deleted similarly to emails, more ads will eventually appear.

The Response

Companies such as Seamless, Groupon, and others responded very quickly, sending mass emails to their subscribers with instructions to drag one email from the company into the primary tab. This ensures that all further messages from that company will also be sorted into primary. Advocacy groups such as the New Organizing Institute are also finding many of their emails sorted into the promotions tab and are responding similarly. On the other hand, Alex Lustberg of Lyris believes that the tabbed inbox will actually help email marketing because it “grabs attention for an audience that is more receptive and the action is done with intent.”

Discussions on Warrior Forum show mixed opinions amongst marketers. While user Web Cash Day began a thread describing the trick to have subscribers move that company’s emails to the primary tab, others have responded stating that this will not change anything and that customers will dislike the extra junk mail. Web Cash Day states, “I noticed a 10% drop in CTR when the tab first came out and I have noticed a 14% hike since I changed it. Coincidence maybe but I am happy with it.”

What does your business think about the new Gmail’s affect on email marketing? Are you planning to respond in any way?

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Elizabeth K

Elizabeth Kent is a recent graduate with an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. She earned her B.A. from Smith College with a major in the Study of Women and Gender and a minor in Jewish Studies. Elizabeth recently relocated from the Boston area back to Western Massachusetts, where she spends her free time volunteering with a local non-profit organization. Elizabeth has worked as a writing tutor, archival intern, research assistant, and retail associate. Her interests include studying pop culture, kittens, and making meals with as little cooking as possible.

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