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How could Google Mail's Grid view impact marketing?

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18th May 2014
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You have probably heard about the field trial that Google is currently running across its Gmail service called Grid view. If not you should sit up and take notice of it, as we could be on the cusp of one of the biggest steps in the evolution of email marketing – the delivery of engaging personalised real-time relevant content right there in the new age subject line, seen before the email is even opened.

Put simply Grid view is a fresh new way of looking at your email. Instead of logging on to your Gmail account and seeing a mass of text in your inbox, you are presented with three tabs ‘primary’, ‘social’ and the one we are most excited about - ‘promotions’. When opened this promotions tab presents all of your offers (and I am sure some Google advertising) graphically in a grid. The best description I have heard to date in describing it is ‘Pinterest for email’.


 

So, now the key to success in getting your email opened is not the quality of your copy in the subject line but how well the image resonates with the customer, in order to trigger the desired response. It is here that with a touch of some clever behind the scenes work, Grid view can you offer the most compelling opportunity for email marketers.

The challenge with making an email resonate with a customer has always been timing. You painstakingly craft a campaign, schedule its release for the day and time you think will give it the most exposure and then you wait. As technology has evolved we as an industry have got much better at personalisation monitoring who opened what and when. However, the missing piece of the puzzle has been changing the promotion to ensure it is timely at the moment the customer opens the message, as well as tracking the results beyond simple click through rates.

Omnichannel opportunity?

Without getting too technical, you can take advantage of the new Grid view to have total control over the image the customer sees at the point at which the promotions tab is clicked. For example, if customer has recently visited your e-commerce site and has an item in their basket that they are yet to checkout you can pull that specific product image, so that is what they see. Likewise, if you have tracked the customers browsing behaviour you can push an image to them that matches their recent browsing history.

Link it with your stock systems and all of a sudden you can push product to the customer based on availability, at the point at which they are reading the message and are in a position to take action and order.

Using email in this way also enables your email marketing to become far more agile and responsive to market conditions. If you have sent a promotional offer in the morning only to find out your competitor has a better offer you can change the image to provide an improved incentive.

As you can see the opportunities are almost limitless! The crucial point is that the image can be determined up until the point at which the customer clicks on the promotions tab, so it really is as near to a personalised real-time interaction with your customers via email as you can possibly get. Also, it is worth noting that if you have images in the main body of your email message you can do exactly the same thing!

Personalised real-time relevant content is more engaging and this leads to better open rates and ultimately increased sales conversions, improved customer loyalty and greater advocacy. Also, as the image content of your emails is now connected to your back-end systems it becomes far easier to quantify the conversion rates of an individual email or en-masse campaign, so justifying marketing spend becomes easier and far more accountable.

Of course, Grid view is only a trial at the moment, with no set date for a wider roll-out. Also it is not yet available for users of mobile devices. However, Google has a strong track record of investing in winners and what is more, if Grid view proves successful you can be sure other webmail providers such as Hotmail and Yahoo Mail will be sure to follow suit. What is certain is that those marketers that get involved early stand to reap the early rewards.

It seems that whilst everyone has been busy looking at the development of new and exciting communication channels, Google has been reinventing the old workhorse that is email and as a result it has cemented its position as an intrinsic part of an organisations omnichannel strategy.

Eddy Swindell is director of sales and marketing at Triggered Messaging.

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