When Gmail launched a new tab feature to filter email types, it sent marketers into a panic. Hailed as “Email Apocalypse,” the new system created a lot of panic and confusion. That confusion is still there today for marketers who’ve been unable to get their email campaigns out of what they see as the “no man’s land” of email marketing.
There are a couple of ways around this. One you can guide users how to move your email campaigns from one tab into a primary inbox. You can offer a little instruction blog post and video and keep hoping that users are catching on. Or you can embrace Gmail’s genius.
Here’s why. Worldwide there are about 205 billion email messages sent every day. That’s a lot of emails. To be able to understand this from a marketing perspective, you’ve got to first understand your user. Chances are they’re a Gmail user and they’re not in their email as much as you are. It is also not their job (as it might be yours) to get to inbox zero every day. As a frequent email user who is constantly swamped and uses email for work, here’s a small insight into what’s really going on.
Most emails can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour to respond to, depending on the level of follow-up work I’m required to do, including researching what the sender is talking about. This takes time. And while I’m trying to get to an email, I’ve got other priorities and I’ve got distractions. This means that on any given day I’m nowhere near email zero and my email messages are now another task I need to cross off.
Having a promotions tab is a life saver because it keeps apart the information I want from the information I need to respond to. Because of the promos tab in my Gmail, I’m not drowning in a sea of mixed emails that don’t differentiate between priorities or data types.
From a marketing perspective, you’re going to be disappointed because your open rates will suffer. Since you don’t have primary real estate anymore, you’re not getting the same click-open rates you did before. But, when people do get to your email you’re much more likely to have them stay on your page longer and increase your conversions, because now I’m focused on what you have to say – because I’ve come to it at my own time rather than having you compete with work emails through the day.
That said, you also don’t want your emails to be seen as promotions, which is the problem I have with (not the tab itself, but) the name of the tab. You want your email campaigns to stand apart from sales oriented promotions that are just about pushing something onto the reader. You can do this by starting to personalize your email campaigns. Take the example of magazine editors who start of each new issue with a “letter from the editor.” It personalizes the message and it leads into what’s next. There’s no reason why your campaigns can’t be personalized. Even if it’s a strict pushing of the coupon, you can still have something personal at the bottom banner of the email. Ultimately, this invokes a cultural change that makes email campaigns more intimate. If you can create a connection with your reader, your reader will come looking for you or at the very least spot your email campaigns.
This strategy also helps reduce unsubscribe rates. I have about one unsubscribe per email campaign until I started leading with a “Message from Shireen Qudosi” at the start of each campaign. It completely squashed the unsubscribes because now it’s personal and being personal means being – and getting others – invested.