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How will Gmail's priority inbox change your email marketing?

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16th Sep 2010
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Gmail's latest feature brings definitive changes to the email marketing landscape. But this is not necessarily a bad thing.

If you’re a daily email user, and yes, an email marketer, you’ve probably heard of Gmail's new Priority Inbox feature. This feature, which is still being tested in its beta phase but which is available to all Gmail users, will automatically divide your inbox into important emails – and everything else.

Of course, this has been met with mixed responses by email marketers! I must admit, my first thoughts were doom and damnation for all email marketers alike, but after thinking about it a bit more and having had time to follow industry discussions on the topic, I’m beginning to see this as a very positive development.

Sure, two things are going to change decisively: It will separate the email marketing wheat from the chaff and it will help email marketers focus on quality client leads and relationships.

So what do you do to make sure you get the better end of the deal with these changes?

  1. The nature of email is personal and direct, that’s why it’s such an ideal tool for building customer relationships. A priority inbox will mean that for those customers who engage in a business-consumer relationship with your brand’s email marketing campaigns (by opening your emails and clicking on links) your email will rank higher in their inbox, building even more brand trust. Hence your email marketing should be more focused on customer relationship management than ever before – ideal, really, considering the nature of email.
  2. Generic messages simply won’t make the cut. At least, not in the long run. More than ever, ensure that your content is relevant to the recipient. Value-laden, personalised emails are the way forward (as they’ve always been, actually). Use the tools at your disposal – test, segment your lists and set up autoresponders for your campaigns.
  3. Your Gmail subscribers will need to be able to identify your emails very easily if you want them to keep opening. That is, your brand or business name will have to feature strongly in either the From name, subject line or pre-header. That way, if you’re already running a very successful campaign your subscribers will quickly be able to spot if your emails have been bumped down and mark you as an important sender.
  4. You’re going to need more than once-off engagement from subscribers. To prevent your email efforts from slipping into cyber netherworld you’ll need your recipients to interact and engage with your email newsletter continuously. Make sure that your email has a very clear call to action, preferably one that encourages engagement, like clicking on a link, replying, or submitting a comment. Of course, should you encourage your subscribers to reply, be sure to send from an active email address. It might mean more work, but it is a good way to enhance your customer service and to obtain more client feedback. Perhaps use the opportunity to refer them to the correct department or person to deal with their query.

Simply put, Gmail’s priority inbox does change the email marketing landscape, but the benefits of email marketing remain as solid as ever. You’re just going have to be better at email marketing – and in return, you should see an even greater ROI. Quality campaigns will be the ones to make it to the top of the inbox.

Carmia Lureman is a marketer at global ESP GraphicMail

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By praadipto
16th Sep 2010 14:01

While I agree with the comments, I just have a quick question. If you are targetting the corporates, what % of the emails are targetted to free services (like Gmail and Hotmail). I would imagine most of the qualified leads would have official email address.

Thanks

PG

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By houstonone
24th Sep 2010 12:01

Yeah I agree. Though I guess it depends on your firm - if you're business-to-consumer, say a retailer, quite a lot of your mail list could be made up of hotmails and gmails and so on. But if your business-to-business then as you say they will be most official corporate emails. Clearly this move will affect some types of business more than others.

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