The NEW Gmail Inbox – Built for the User; Not the Business Marketing to Them

Personally, I don’t find a problem with that….at all. In fact, when I opened up my Gmail this past Friday morning and saw the change, I think my mouth dropped to the floor and I had to catch my breath. I was that excited about it…as a User. However, as a business I can see why y’all might be in a tizzy. Let me back up.

New Gmail Inbox Lisa Sullivan

At the end of May, Google revealed it was making BIG changes to the Gmail inbox and they packaged the announcement in such a way that it truly looks enticing for Users –

We get a lot of different types of email: messages from friends, social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts, and more. All of these emails can compete for our attention and make it harder to focus on the things we need to get done. Sometimes it feels like our inboxes are controlling us, rather than the other way around.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, Gmail is getting a brand new inbox on desktop and mobile that puts you back in control using simple, easy organization. ~The official Gmail blog

I’d like to believe they’ve done a boat load of research on this. Let me translate that – they have done a boat load of watching every move you make in your Gmail inbox – what emails you delete right way to what labels you’ve created to what emails you place under those labels and in those folders, how often you do so, etc. So, yes, they’ve done their research.

Don’t let that scare you. First of all, let’s get this out of the way – you’re being watched anyway (from way back when you must’ve heard of the “Cookie”; it’s not a chocolate sandwich with vanilla inside, if that’s what you were thinking it was.). If you’re on the internet, you’ve already given away the farm, so to speak…and this is coming from one of the biggest privacy & control advocates you’ve known. Trust me. I get it. I still use it. Go with it. So back to this new change…

Gmail figures if it gives you a bit more organization so you can get to the emails that are important to you, it’s done you a service. While I don’t like that philosophy (as I prefer to control my own destiny), even I admit I freakin LOVE the changes! AND…I don’t find it hard to toggle between tabs or move emails that I always want to see to my “primary” inbox, all new features available. I have yet to use all the new functions, but so far, I’m lovin’ it!

That said, I can see how a business would not.

If you’re a marketer who uses email marketing within your strategy, your emails (to your customers that use Gmail) have most likely made it to the new “promotions” tab by-passing the “primary” inbox all together. That could be a bad thing….or it could be a good thing. Depends on how you look at it.

First, if you’re dishing out unbelievably AWESOME content in your newsletters, your customers receiving them will move your emails to their “primary” box; some may already have (Who can guess what I’ve chosen to do? Hmm? 😉 ). But, if you suck at email marketing, well, then your customers haven’t done that and probably won’t. As a business, I can definitely see how this change could hurt you.

So, what can you do about it?

#1 Kindly ask your customers to place your content in their “Primary” folder

I hope you got three things out of that statement – be kind AND yes, you have to ask. The third is a bit more subliminal – while you are “being kind”, also be creative. When Facebook made it’s algorithmic changes causing Pages not to show up as often in their audience News Feeds, Page administrators would post – “Facebook has made changes again. If you’d like our Page to show in your News Feed, please follow these steps. Please do this and share with everyone you know,” or something like that.

Who just threw up a little in their mouths? Go ahead. Admit it. You did.

But, seriously, it’s one thing when ONE Page does that but if you’re a Page-heavy User like me (I make no bones about this but I follow over 700 Pages…and I have several reasons for this that I’ll be happy to explain in a future post), and you see multiple status updates of the same message, it gets old and then the User ends up shaking their head and saying to themselves, “Yeah, yeah. I’ll get it done when I feel like it.”

So…be creative with your request. Don’t just make a statement in your newsletter about the changes. Make it worth the customer to WANT to put your email in their Primary box. Here’s a suggestion – for the next 4 weeks, offer a new (and different) coupon or discount (than you usually offer). In fact, if you’re doing this, then in your newsletter tell your customer something to the effect of –

“The enclosed coupon is the first of four special coupons this month. To receive them faster each week, be sure to add our emails to your Primary Inbox (just drag & drop this one into your “primary” tab. That’s it!). Believe us. You’ll want to see what we offer each week!”

Bottom line, you’ll have to ask your customers to add your emails into their primary folders, but be kind about it AND creative with it. You might find more of them not only anxiously anticipate what you’re offering, but they’ll tell their friends about it too (make sure you embed social share buttons into your newsletters – make it easy for them to share!).

#2 – Don’t suck at email marketing

If you’re sending out more than one email a week to your customers, you probably suck at email marketing. That said, there are some email newsletters I actually anxiously await their deals or content daily (The NEW TASTEDaily comes to mind. Check it out!). However, most of them, I end up deleting anyway. Perhaps I just signed up for the company’s newsletter for a special promotion or because I thought they’d be interesting and I’d have time to read them or whatever. I find I end up deleting most. I am in the process of weeding through the dozens of e-newsletters I receive and unsubscribing from some, but that’s a personal problem so we’ll move on.

If you’re sending out the “same ole” type of content, you probably suck at email marketing. I get emails from one company that consistently sends the same content – a product update and then a coupon. Sometimes, I take advantage of the coupon. Most of the time, I don’t look forward to their email and as such, I end up deleting it (thereby deleting that week’s coupon – oh well.). Hopefully, you’re checking your email stats (i.e. how many unsubscribes you get with each mailing but also, what links they’re clicking on, what links you wish they’d click on, AND how often they stay “on page” or “on your site” when they get there, etc.). If you’re not monitoring your stats, well, then that too means you suck at email marketing.

How can you not suck?

Well, there are all kinds of strategies you can use. It depends on your product or service and MOST importantly, your goals with each email you send. If your only goal is to get as little “unsubscribes” as possible each time you send, well, then all the power to ya. But, if your goal is to encourage a registration on your site, to drive traffic to your Facebook Page, to do a combination of both or something completely different, you need to provide relevant content for your audience that will get them to want to do that.

But how?” you ask. Maybe I’ll make that a future blog post? Let me think on that a bit.

All this to say that for the User, the NEW Gmail inbox should be a lifesaver. Take the time to set yours up the way you wish to utilize it for maximum productivity. If you’re a business, rethink your email marketing strategy, but don’t give up. Adapt and make it AWESOME….so AWESOME your customers will wait for your email with bated breath (OK, maybe not THAT awesome…or…maybe!).

Take a gander at the Google video introducing us to the new Gmail inbox here –

What do you think of the NEW Gmail inbox? Are you excited about it or are you finding it to be yet another change to adapt to and thus, you’ll get to it when you can OR worse, you’re leaving Gmail for greener pastures? Would love to hear in the comments below.

A note about comments – I accept intelligent commentary offering solutions to the issue I may have put forth. Be nasty and well, you don’t get approved. It’s as simple as that. BUT, be intelligent and insightful, I’m happy to approve your comment with a smile. 🙂 Thank you!

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