The End of Email Marketing?

Is Gmail’s new tabbed inboxes the death of email marketing?

Back in May, Google began rolling out an entirely new Gmail layout. Gmail accounts now default to an inbox that is segmented into three tabs: primary, promotions, and social. There are two more tabs Gmail users can elect to use, forums and updates. Gmail automatically filters incoming emails into one of these three (or five) tabs. Users can help Gmail learn where they want their emails to go by reassigning an email to a different tab with an easy drag and drop or creating filters for incoming emails.

Over the summer, I’ve been watching the marketing world’s “the sky is falling” response to Gmail’s new layout. At the same time, I was personally growing more fond of the layout. I found myself feeling more in control and not as exasperated looking at my inbox. Google was helping me ORGANIZE and sustain FOCUS by segmenting the purpose of my emails. Thank you, Google!

I am happy to report the initial hysteria over the end of email marketing is quieting down now that we have numbers to look at. The data is still inconclusive, but what appears to be happening is just what Google intended, users that are the most engaged with a brand seem to be MORE likely to open a promotional email then before. The silo-ing effect of the tabbed inbox, allows Gmail users to focus their attention rather than feel overwhelmed with too many emails in their inbox.

There are some email marketing tactics to help Gmail users find your email:

  1. Create a highly segmented email distribution list.
  2. Subject lines should be relevant to the email content and attention grabbing, “One Day Sale!”
  3. Educate your customers. Explain how the new tabs work, where your email is most likely to be, and how users can set filters to control where incoming emails land.

Personally, I love the new layout. I feel less frenzied when I look at my inbox, I can focus my attention. If I am working, I stay within my primary tab. When I have time, I can peruse my other tabs. I have found that I am MORE likely to click on a promotion or a blog feed that I definitely would have deleted out of my inbox because it was just visual clutter; distracting me from work I needed to focus on at that time. Yes I could have reassigned to a folder, but out of sight, out of mind. I now have a nice large tab reminding me there are other emails to look at – when I’m ready, I can keep them there and return when I am most likely to engage.

Again, the initial email marketing data is still inconclusive, but all signs are pointing to that this is not the end of email marketing. I believe we are going to see growing evidence Gmail’s new layout increases the rate of opened emails and conversions with users who are most likely to engage.