E-Mail Marketing and the Gmail Inbox: Marketers Fight Back

software e-mail marketingWe’ve discussed Gmail’s new inbox update before here at the Mission Suite, but many marketers are still worried that the new tabbed system will have adverse affects on their campaigns. While software for e-mail marketing has long been designed with the idea of avoiding spam filters in mind, it appears the Google has thrown a new roadblock in the way of marketers: and they’re not taking it laying down.

Marketers at the national supermarket chain Kroger took a proactive approach and sent an e-mail to subscribers using Gmail simply telling them how to ensure all future Kroger communications bypass the “promotions” inbox and end up in the primary inbox. The process for doing this is as simple as dragging and dropping one e-mail from promotions to primary and checking “yes” on a dialog box. Still, assuming that the vast majority of readers will do this purely at the marketers urging might be a bit presumptuous.

DVD rental firm Redbox issued similar requests to its readers, saying, “”The new inbox means that you might miss Redbox e-mails with time-based offers and rental news.” The threat that readers might miss out on time-constrained offers and deals by using Gmail’s new inbox is an interesting approach to take that actually demonstrates the value of the e-mails to readers.

A wide variety of other companies are also urging their readers to bypass the new tabs, attempting to coerce customers into redirecting their communications into the primary inbox with offers, coupons and other incentives.

E-mail marketing has been forced to contend with developments in software – both positive and negative – as long it has been in existence. Software scrapes e-mail to identify spam, and other software delivers powerful tools for e-mail marketing. Marketers are constantly trying to stay abreast of new developments in the tools and defensive techniques that new e-mail marketing software presents.

So how are the Gmail tabs actually affecting delivery rates for promotional e-mails? E-mail testing and analytics firm Litmus has been tracking open rates for Gmail users since tabs were implemented. They discovered a drop of about 13% since July, and 18% in since May.

However, it may be the season, and not Gmail, that’s to blame for the drop in e-mail opens. “Summer is typically a slower time for e-mail marketing. I think the true test will come in Q4, the busiest e-mail season,” said Jill Bastian of VerticalResponse. If Gmail opens suffer over the insanely busy Christmas season then many marketers will again be rethinking their approach to dealing with Gmail.

How will this affect you and the way you implement your software for e-mail marketing in the future? Will you take a direct approach and ask customers to explicitly grant primary inbox permission, or simply attempt to avoid detection? Or maybe you subscribe to another school of thought and believe the promotions box won’t have any adverse effects? As it always has in the past, the world of e-mail marketing and the software that surrounds it is in constant flux, so remember to always be innovating, watching your metrics, and trying new things to stay one step ahead of the competition.

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