E-Mail Marketing Meets the Gmail Promotions Tab

gmailGmail just changed their inbox again, and e-mail marketing services are panicking. In the new layout, 5 tabs across the top of the screen pre-sort e-mail.

  • Primary: is the default tab and is all other, personal e-mail.
  • Promotions: newsletters and other commercial, opted-in mailing lists.
  • Updates: transactional e-mail such as shipping confirmation.
  • Social: messages from social networks.
  • Forums: alerts from online message boards like Reddit.

For my usage, it’s been somewhat accurate. YouTube updates, Facebook, and Tumblr alerts have been landing in Social. All my e-mail subscriptions — blogs, companies, coupons — are in Promotions. Forums or Updates seems to be a mish-mosh of the first three, so I turned them off. I suggest that you let customers know, on your webpage, which tab to check for the relevant important e-mails.

Regardless of snafus, here’s why Gmail’s inbox tabs won’t kill your e-mail marketing plan.

1. Organization is a mood marker. The hardest thing in making a sale? Catching your reader when she’s ready to shop. The second hardest thing, as an e-mail marketer? Grabbing her attention in an e-mail box awash with notes from work, family, and friends.

Take away: Your customer goes to the Promotions tab when she wants shop. For Gmail users, you now have the best of both worlds: the intimacy of e-mail with the shopping mood shoppers feel at the mall. When they open your email, they’re already primed to spend money.

2. You have a little more time. People read e-mail to get through a chore; however, people in a shopping mood read the Promotions tab looking for a deal. They’ve entered the hunter-gatherer headspace of shopping. Instead of glancing at your e-mail for 5-10 seconds, they may linger a bit longer.

Take away: You have more time to place more complicated deals, such as coupons for a friend, buy-some-get-something else deals, or deals set in the future.

3. Prepare for e-mails to trend. E-mails may be saved longer, since most people won’t be hitting that Promotions tab every day. However, since the Promotions tab is part of the legit e-mail box, not spam, customers may spend more time and value the e-mails more.

Take away: Track your e-mails sent to Gmail boxes over time. Promote your deals, events, etc., over social media and your website as well as over e-mail.

4. Customers can move your e-mails to Primary if they want. Or out of it. Gmail will remember how a customer sorts their e-mail.

Take away: I am not aware of any ESP that has analytics for who has placed your e-mail in which tab as of yet, though I am sure developers are racing to get on board with that (you may want to search for third party apps).

Asking customers to put you in their Primary box can be tricky, but you may be able to pull it off with extreme tact. Remember that the e-mail box is your customers’ digital ‘home,’ and no one will appreciate someone else telling them how to decorate it.

And finally: Do be aware that it’s simple to go back to the old inbox, and even the innovative Gmail will have luddites. So don’t expect all your Gmail subscribers to instantly adopt the new inbox.

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