Have you sent out a scathing email to all of your contacts yet, blasting Gmail’s ever-changing ways? Have you driven yourself practically to madness by obsessing over the new tabbed interface in Google’s webmail? If you haven’t yet, this is not a call to arms – stay calm, please.
I have seen marketers sending emails to what I can only assume is their entire subscriber base talking about how ridiculous and stupid these changes are. Before you prepare your own expletive-laden communication to the world (trust me, they get worse than “ridiculous” and “stupid”) or take to social media to make an uninformed point, take a moment, have a deep breath, and consider the stats. The honest truth is, there aren’t many statistics yet on how Gmail’s new tabbed inbox affects open rates. AND THAT IS THE POINT.
Recent data offered by Litmus shows that sure, Gmail’s overall open rates are slightly down. However, just like with any data analysis, you have to expand your view to be sure you are focusing on a trend, not just a single data point. Historically, Gmail’s open rate is pretty much all over the place. While it may turn out that the tabbed inbox does affect open rates in a negative way, there is just not enough data yet to know with any certainty.
Many larger companies are encouraging their Gmail subscribers to drag their emails from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab. Is this a good idea? Well, the jury is still out on this (again, not yet enough data). Have I moved any marketing emails into my Primary tab? Heck, no. As a Gmail user and groupie, I am in love with my new, clean, shiny Primary tab that has only important items from – you guessed it – my primary contacts. A promotional email appearing there would desecrate the sanctity of this tab.
Before you consider a mass email asking your subscribers to relocate your emails to their Primary tab, consider the following data from Litmus: “A whopping 66% of Gmail opens occur on mobile devices.” Only 15% of messages are opened on a desktop. Of Gmail opens, only 19% occur in Gmail webmail. Most of the rest use a variety of apps, not all of which feature the tabbed interface. “The #1 email client for Gmail users is the iPhone’s built-in mail program, with 34% of all Gmail opens.” Guess what? iPhones’s built-in mail program does not have tabs.
The moral of the story is to think twice before asking people to change the way that they receive your emails with regards to tabs. Your request to drag your message to Primary may be falling on deaf ears. Perhaps soon we will find that it is a good idea. But maybe we will find out something even better. Hang tight, and let’s watch the data. Pay attention to your open and click metrics. If you notice a downward trend, then take action. Email marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, so plan your moves thoughtfully. I’ll be watching to see how it shakes out.