Has Google Just Killed Email Marketing?

Has Google Just Killed Email Marketing?

Last month, my colleague Hank Hoffmeier reported on the changes Google was making to its Gmail service.

The update has since been rolled out to Gmail users around the world, who should now see their inboxes split into three main tabbed categories:

  • Primary: For messages from friends, co-workers, family, and anyone you communicate or connect with on a regular basis
  • Social: For messages from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and any other social networks you belong to
  • Promotions: This is where the bulk of your email marketing campaigns will land (that’s right – your email marketing messages will be segregated)

The changes have certainly whipped up some controversy, with countless pundits predicting that Google might just have done what social media (and every other form of online marketing) has failed to do. Has Google just killed email marketing?

Well, let’s not panic.

According to Litmus, in June 2013, the Gmail email client only had a 3.78% market share. Compare this to Apple iPhone at 24% and Outlook at 18%, and it is clear that only a fraction of your emails are going to be affected by these changes. Moreover, Gmail’s market share seems to be in decline, dropping from 5.35% in the previous month.

Many B2B marketers are also unlikely to see much impact. I certainly see less value in the acquisition of a Gmail address than one on a more businesslike domain (although this will be cold comfort to B2C marketers).

In the B2C world, the changes at Gmail may actually force some marketers to adopt a more serious approach to best practices. If engagement rates are in decline, you’d better make sure the emails that do get through (and this should still be the bulk of them) work harder for you.

Finally, Gmail does a half-decent job of highlighting promotional emails as and when they come in. This means that as a person who only subscribes to lists I actually value, I am actually more likely to engage with email marketing messages that land in my promotional inbox.

How have the changes at Gmail affected your email marketing strategies? Share your thoughts in the comments box below:

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