New Gmail Features Mean Changes for Marketers

Unless you’ve been disconnected from the Internet, you probably know that over the next few weeks, Gmail will be rolling out a new feature for sorting incoming messages.

Launched in 2004, Gmail has become one of Google’s most successful entities outside of its core search and advertising businesses. In fact, Gmail’s steady user growth has proved that email messaging is anything but dying, as many people outside of marketing have claimed. Last summer, Google announced the service had 425 million active users worldwide, up 75 million in just half a year. While Google consistently remains agile, tech analysts have said it’s particularly important for the company to keep upgrading its email features if it wants to beat its competitors.

While many users are comfortable with the archaic method of categorizing via folders, Gmail offers labels for email filtering. To prevent users from feeling overwhelmed by the constant influx of email messages, Google will now give Gmail users the option to organize these messages into categories based on the type of message:

  • Primary: Messages from family, friends and other people who appear to be regularly contacted (plus messages that don’t fit into the other groupings).
  • Social: Messages from social media networks, dating services, etc. Here you’ll see, “So and so has sent you a direct message on Twitter.”
  • Promotions: This is where sale notifications from retailers, daily deals and so on will be sorted.
  • Updates: Many of the unexciting but important things wind up here, including bills, statements, receipts, order confirmations, etc.
  • Forums: Messages from discussion boards, online groups and mailing lists go in this category.

Google revolutionized email with unlimited storage space, and the new filtering capabilities add another layer to the user experience. The inbox organization groups are optional, and users can choose which of the five categories, if any, they want to use. In a competitive playing field, companies must remain innovative and services relevant. Google understands that email is used multiple times a day, every day, and if it doesn’t make users’ lives easier, they will find another solution that does.

For instance, Gmail’s new inbox feature will enable users to personalize their inbox by customizing which tabs are seen and train the categories to automatically sort the emails correctly. However, the feature to create new tabs is in the pipeline, but is not yet available. Currently, users can drag messages between categories or flag email from certain senders to always appear in designated tabs.

Will This Change, Help or Hinder Marketers?
As Gmail gradually rolls out this new sorting feature, keep an eye on inboxing and email engagement rates to monitor any sort of fluctuations. These are our initial predictions at Yesmail:

  • According to Yesmail’s research, standard inboxing versus bulking detection won’t change because Gmail will still offer its standard spam folder.
  • Increased email organization can result in increased engagement rates for marketers’ active subscriber base, since brand messages will be easier to locate and less likely to get lost in a crowded inbox. Active subscribers who look for messages from a certain brand may set up filters so they can easily access that brand’s emails in the users’ a preferred folder.
  • On the other hand, improved email organization could potentially lead to lower engagement rates for less active subscribers who have become inactive over time or were inactive since subscribing to a brand’s specific email program. These unengaged subscribers will have the option to place a certain brand’s messages in a folder that users look at even less frequently—or ignore altogether.

It’s unclear exactly how these changes will impact email marketers until analysis is conducted around engagement levels, but the new filtering option is sure to help Gmail users easily find the emails they want while weeding out those that do not apply. Perhaps Gmail is a solution for both users and marketers to find their best match. Google predicts the new efficiency system may not attract new users, but it will certainly solidify Gmail’s position as one of the most innovative, efficient emailing services.

Publish date: June 24, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT