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Keep Calm and Gmail On

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There’s nothing that strikes fear into the hearts of small business owners more than changes at Google. You can probably deal with a lot of things in life, like Ben Affleck becoming Batman or your pre-teenage daughter watching Mylie Cyrus. But changes at Google may send you into fits of panic, like when they introduced the new Gmail inbox in May and the recent changes to Google Adwords. Yeah, remember that?

 

If you’re like many business owners, you may go through these four stages of dealing with the Google changes:

 

  1. Disbelief – “Why, oh why, do you hate me, Google?!”
  2. Denial – this usually involves researching and sometimes trying out ways in which to circumvent the change.
  3. Acceptance – eventually you start to understand the rationale behind the Google thought-process and start to think rationally about how you can adapt (a little side note: how scary is that phrase “Google thought-process”?)
  4. Hope – you are now happy working with the new scenario but pray that nothing else changes any time soon.

 

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what stage you’re in. If you want to drive visitors to your website through email marketing, you’ll want to understand the new Gmail inbox. Here are a few things to know:

 

How Does The New Gmail Inbox Work?

 

Let’s back up a little bit first to recap how it works. Gmail users now have tabs at the top of their screen. Emails are automatically filtered into these tabs in order to tidy up email inboxes. The tabs are:

 

  • Primary – regarded as the most important emails that need to be dealt with every day
  • Social – messages from social networks
  • Promotions – marketing emails (our stuff!)
  • Updates – auto-generated emails from services
  • Forums – messages from forums, groups and discussion boards.

 

Users can switch off the tabs, but when things like this are introduced, people tend to adapt. So expect the tabs to stay. There are other controls, including the ability to move emails between tabs, which Gmail learns from. This all results in a good user experience.

 

From a Gmail user point of view, the new inbox is great at getting rid of clutter. And it’s less burdensome not having to trawl through sales pitches and offers all day every day. Plus, it’s also refreshing not having other non-urgent emails clogging the inbox.

 

Be Like Winston Churchill

 

So what does this mean for getting in front of your customers? You may have grappled with the difficulty of getting your content in front of your customers before the changes. And you may be wondering: if your email is stuck in the Promotions tab, will your potential customer ever open it?

 

Unfortunately there’s not enough data to get a clear picture of the impact on open rates. It varies by industry, and many other factors. Some research has shown a decrease in email opens, but that’s full of caveats and it also contradicts some other research. Google is remaining quiet (unsurprisingly).

 

The thing is, it truly comes down to the quality of your content. When Gmail users actually go to the Promotions tab they’re likely to be in a much more positive frame of mind for your content than otherwise. Or, they’re prepared to see the onslaught of promotions - because they’re knowingly clicking into the Promotions tab. If they’re really engaged with what you’re offering, they’ll probably move your emails to the Primary tab.

 

The new Gmail inbox has changed the way users receive your marketing emails. There may be fewer recipients who open them. But those that do will be more likely to convert. It all depends on whether you’re creating quality content.

 

If you’re already producing quality, be like the great British wartime leader Winston Churchill: Keep Calm, And Carry On. Sure, it may be an overused meme, but repeating a quality mantra can put you in the right mindset…to keep on creating quality. Now go create!