Gmail recently changed its layout so that each user’s inbox is divided into three tabs: Primary, Social, and Promotions. This change will likely affect email marketing strategies, since many marketing emails will automatically be sent to the “promotions” tab. However, many marketing experts believe the new layout may actually benefit marketers in the long run.
The downside to Gmail’s newest update is clear: email marketers fear that their emails will now avoid the spam folder only to be directed to the “promotions” tab. The question, then, is how the new “promotions” tab will be managed by users. Will users only open the “promotions” tab to mass delete all of its containing emails? Or will user simply ignore the tab and focus on their primary emails?
Another important question is how the “promotions” tab will affect email deliverability. What good is it if an email makes it to the inbox, but is then directed to the “promotions” tab and instantly deleted? Another concern is whether emails are more likely to be deleted if they’re considered to be promotional. Was it easier to catch a user’s attention when your email was merely interspersed with personal emails?
But an optimistic view for marketers is that the Gmail update will actually improve email marketing and will reward email campaigns that are rich in content. A recent Practical Ecommerce article explains that after the update, companies will have the chance to differentiate themselves by adding high quality content to their emails, encouraging users to switch these emails to the “primary” tab, which will be left untouched by competitors:
“And while the tabbed Gmail layout might make it easier for some users to mass delete messages under the Promotions tab, those users who find your email content helpful, informative, or full of value, may continue to read your messages or even drag them to the Primary tab where they will have a front row seat and a lot less competition.”
We believe that the Gmail update will ultimately exaggerate the efforts of email marketers. Some companies will benefit, they will be the winners, marketers that craft great email campaigns and truly differentiate themselves from their competitors. And there will be losers, the companies that stick to the status quo and fail to rise to the challenge. The difference will most likely be in the quality of content offered for subscribers.