Will Your Email Marketing Be Hurt by Gmail’s New Categories?

Changes to Google Gmail May Reduce the Open Rates of Your Email Marketing Campaigns

The email marketing world is currently being shaken up by Google’s recent change to Gmail’s inbox. A new auto-sorting feature places many email newsletters and solicitations into a separate category folder, “Promotions,” and not the main Inbox. For users this change has met with mixed reviews, but for businesses that rely on the power of email marketing—things just got real.

What does “just got real” mean for a business or organization? Simply put, your email outreach to both new and potential customers (your “community”) will be facing some fresh challenges. Granted, this change only impacts those using Gmail in a browser, but the number of Gmail users goes beyond those with an “@gmail.com” address. Many businesses and organizations also use Google Apps to cost effectively host their email and this new sorting function is impacting them as well.

What difference does it make? By having your emails placed directly into a separate category with other “Promotions” emails, your email has to fight even harder to be noticed among all the competition for your community’s attention. Your emails may be placed side by side with your competitors within the Promotions category. Let’s cover some of the top issues to consider:

The subject line has always been important, but now the right subject content is downright critical. Being sure your headline grabs attention and entices the open means the difference between being deleted and being read.

Keep smart, relevant content flowing to your email recipients. Knowing what interests your community is important, but knowing what motivates them to action is more critical than ever. Developing the right content that proves both useful and builds expertise will keep your priority position in your community’s Inbox. Add in some timeliness or urgency and you’ll have a winning mix.

Give extra time for calls to action. One of the downsides to the new system Google has in place is that it will only alert users regarding new messages and not unread messages. Email recipients may not dig into the new, separate category as frequently. Add extra time for your community to act on offers or take advantage of specials.

Educate your community and help them find your emails. While Google is working to improve the user experience and keep user-preferred content flowing, your audience may not know your emails are being redirected to the Promotions category. Don’t be afraid to tell them where to find your emails. Simple instructions on how to keep your emails front and center can go a long way. Believe it or not, users can elect to have your emails come straight to their Inbox—and that is the ultimate mark of content success.

Schedules are a must. Have one? Great—keep to it. Need one? Make one and stick to it. As there is now uncertainty surrounding where your emails will land in your community’s Inbox, you need to make sure that when they land in their Inbox is a scheduled certainty. The trust built by staying on schedule also helps increase the perceived value of what you’re delivering.

Finally, don’t try and game the system. Over the coming weeks, I am certain there will be those who find ways to work around Gmail’s sorting system. Don’t try to cheat Google. Despite how tempting it will be, stick to delivering great content and being true to your community. As we’ve seen with Black Hat SEO cowboys, Google finds them and soundly punishes them and their unsuspecting clients—algorithm changes that penalize those using the workaround. However, Google does reward those who play by the rules.

While some marketers will argue that Google’s use of the Promotions category or tab will be devastating to email marketing, good content and a passionate community will win the day. Don’t panic, and keep creating great content. It will pay off. The connection you’ve formed with your online community and the passion you have for your industry will win out.

If you would like Signalfire to review your email campaigns, drop Matthew an email or give us a call. We’d love the chance to talk about your content, your marketing, and continuing to develop a strong, trusted bond to your online customers and community.

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