When Gmail introduced its new tabbed interface, relegating most business emails and marketing messages to a location called "Promotions" rather than "Primary," marketing professionals were up in arms. The advertising industry was convinced that with the change, marketing messages would never be seen by consumers, who would be more likely to dismiss the Promotions tab as a folder of spam.
Fortunately, recent studies have shown that the situation may not be as dire as marketers and organizations initially feared. An analysis by Return Path found that the most engaged users read nearly 59 percent of email promotions before the switch, and following the change, the percentage of marketing emails being read actually increased by nearly 2 percent. However, this didn't keep those in the industry from taking action against the tabbed interface.
Major organizations, marketers aren't waiting around
While studies such as ReturnPath's offer the marketing industry some hope for one of the most effective advertising channels at its disposal, experts assert that the true test of how promotional messages will fare in the new Gmail structure will come during the holiday season. As a result, some companies are already laying the groundwork to move from "Promotions" to "Primary."
For example, DVD rental company Redbox sent emails to all of its members and customers informing them that the new setup could mean they miss time-sensitive offers and deals from the company, and to avoid this from happening, all they need to do is drag the firm's communications into the Primary tab, InformationWeek reported. This approach may backfire, though.
"Sending an email instructing readers how to move an email from the Promotion tab could be more annoying than helpful at this point," Jill Bastian, community education and training manager at Vertical Response, told the news source in an email. "I'm a Gmail user and I can't tell you how many emails I've been sent on how to do this. At this point, they just annoy me."
As an alternative, Bastian suggested that email marketers monitor their Gmail open rates, and if there happens to be a drop-off, only then should they send requests out to their email distribution lists. In this way, organizations can avoid annoying recipients with potentially unnecessary messages and instead focus on developing custom, engaging content that will drive loyalty and benefit their bottom lines.