What Google’s New Inbox Means For Marketers
With the recently-introduced interface option, consumer behavior is likely to change. Contributor Kevin Gallant explains how marketers can shift their approach to match.
With more than half of all emails now opened on mobile devices, it’s not surprising that Google has designed an app to better fit the mobile email experience.
Whether used on a desktop computer, smartphone or tablet, Google’s recently launched Inbox is designed to make organizing email easier by grouping messages by category, offering pre-header previews and allowing customized reminders based on location.
What About Email Marketers?
While Inbox’s benefits to consumers are clear, they’re less so for marketers. In fact, when Inbox launched in mid-October, email marketers cried out, convinced the app would cause their carefully crafted messages to go unopened in consumers’ inboxes.
Once again, Google is not hurting marketers as it challenges the status quo. All of these changes are helping consumers organize their email better, which is getting the right brand messages in front of the right audience. It’s still early, but from what I can tell, Inbox’s new features have not had any significant impact on clicks or open rates, though I suspect they will lead to higher engagement in the near future.
Here’s a look at some of Inbox’s key features and how marketers can take advantage of the opportunity:
Pin Or “Snooze” An Email
This feature is designed to help consumers keep important messages at the top of the inbox. By either “pinning” a message to the top or hitting “snooze” for the message to disappear and then reappear at a specific time or place, selected messages can appear when they’re relevant to Inbox users.
This is great for marketers whose emails can end up deleted if consumers receive them at the wrong time. For example, if someone receives a Marriott hotel deal via email while they are on vacation, that user would likely just delete the email. With Inbox’s Snooze feature, that user can have the message reappear in a few months when they’re booking their next vacation.
• Moving Forward: Include upbeat calls-to-action to encourage customers to revisit emails. An example for a brick-and-mortar retailer could be encouraging customers to snooze an email until they’re at their local mall.
With Inbox, emails don’t get deleted. Instead, they get moved to the “Done” folder, which allows for easier search later on. It may also indirectly boost engagement metrics.
Gmail metrics include actions such as “deleting messages” and “deleting messages without opening” in its inbox placement metrics. Without Inbox, when a Gmail user deletes a brand message without opening, it negatively impacts that brand’s metrics. By marking emails as “done” instead, the brand’s metrics may improve.
With that said, this feature reminds us that marketers should strive to keep all content in their messages personal and relevant to subscribers.
• Moving Forward: Keep a close eye on delete rates for Gmail, as the “done” feature might artificially deflate delete rates and alter campaign metrics.
We’ve all panicked when we’ve accidentally deleted emails. Inbox users can now avoid that anxiety with its easy undo feature. Its impact on marketing? Without this feature, most users wouldn’t think twice about deleting an email from a brand by accident.
They would likely chalk up the experience to an “oops” moment. Searching for the deleted message in Gmail’s “Deleted Items” folder would be a hassle. The easy “undo” feature increases the likelihood of a brand message to be opened and clicked.
• Moving Forward: Undo button or not, ensure that your users are engaged by delivering relevant content via email. Rather than sending another email asking subscribers to buy, offer content that demonstrates how your brand and consumers’ lives intersect.
Bundle Messages By Type
Gmail has tabs, and now Inbox uses bundles. This is probably marketers’ biggest concern with Inbox because they fear their messages will go straight to the Promotions Bundle and go unread. Like Gmail’s Promotions Tab, this does not seem to be the case. While branded messages will appear in Inbox Bundles, they aren’t going unread.
Just like Gmail Promotions Tabs, users are looking in the Promotions Bundle for their brand messages. In fact, I have not seen any impact on clicks or open rates, but I expect email engagement to eventually increase since the organization features are so strong.
• Moving Forward: Monitor the difference in engagement rates for Gmail vs. non-Gmail users. If Gmail engagement suddenly increases, consider using more Inbox-specific calls-to-action as described above.
In The End, What’s Good For Consumers Will Be Good For Marketing
Inbox is simply the latest development in the evolution of email. The consumer expectation of email has transformed from a place to keep the occasional message to a limitless storage facility for countless messages – and along with this shift has come a desire to organize those messages.
The fight to stay at the “top of the inbox” may be over. With all of the viewing options Inbox provides, it no longer matters when an email is received. Where it appears is much more important. Inbox is helping marketers appear wherever users choose to see them – exactly where they want to be.