Will Gmail Tabs Kill Your Email Marketing? Vocus Weighs In…

Google’s at it again, changing the game just when marketers thought they had it figured out.

Instead of a new algorithm or a retired RSS feed, the search giant rearranged its Gmail inboxes, sending shivers down email marketers’ spines.

Gmail now automatically sorts its users’ emails into different tabs. The Promotions tab is the default home for marketing emails and newsletters.

Gmail Promotions Tab - Email Marketing

Now that Google has quarantined your email marketing, will it ruin your business’ third strongest customer acquisition channel?

Vocus Senior Product Manager Eddie Howard took an early look at the facts and explained why Gmail tabs won’t devastate email marketers. Here’s why:

Clicks have gone up

Before the good news, a small piece of bad news. A majority of email service providers have seen open rates dip slightly because of the tabbed inbox.

The following good news outweighs the bad, though. Some email service providers have reported increased click rates, a metric usually preferred to open rates.

Eddie cautions against reading too much into those stats, though. The results may be only temporary and can vary from person to person.

Christopher S. Penn, for example, ran a pre- and post-tab analysis of his email newsletter and found that his open rates increased 39 percent after Google installed tabs.

Gmail isn’t a giant

Gmail has seen its market share decline to 4 percent. Apple iPhone and Microsoft Outlook lead the way with 23 percent and 18 percent market shares, respectively.

Even if Gmail does have a negative affect on your email marketing, it won’t cripple it to the point where it’s not worthwhile.

No inbox but no spam

Your newsletters and other emails may no longer fall into the prized inbox, but they also may escape the doomed spam folder.

Anecdotally, some email service providers have noticed that Google now treats their newsletter as a promotion instead of spam, Eddie says.

More competition but so what

Another part of the new Gmail is ads disguised as emails that might not be subject to CAN-SPAM compliance.

The new Google ads will appear only in the Promotions tab, are of higher quality than previous Gmail ads and will appear only if they have relevant placements.

These ads will be extremely targeted and create competition in the inboxes, but competing for eyes in inboxes is nothing new for email marketers, Eddie says.

Other voices from around the web

  • Debra Murphy says newsletters that end up in their own tab may actually help you because subscribers often delete promotions if they are busy. The new tab allows subscribers to save newsletters for their downtime.
  • DJ Waldow predicts that click to open rates will increase because loyal subscribers will either take the time to find your email in the Promotions tab or will move it to the Primary tab. Besides, creating timely, targeted, valuable, human emails is the most important thing.
  • Brad Tuttle of Time Magazine contends that subscribers who opt in, stay on, and click your newsletters in the Promotions tab are “marketers’ dream shoppers.”
  • ProBlogger addresses some of the ups and downs of the Promotions tab, but argues that this shouldn’t affect email marketers who consistently provide good copy.

Anything that threatens to harm email marketing, the bread and butter of many businesses, will set off alarm bells. After all 92 percent of marketers say that their email marketing does or will produce a return on investment.

However, as several authoritative voices have confirmed, Gmail tabs are unlikely to lower the $44.25 businesses make on every $1 spent email marketing.

Need better email marketing? Take a demo of the Vocus Marketing Suite today!

Image: Kinologik (Creative Commons)

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