There’s been much hubbub in marketing circles about Gmail’s new inbox system and the best way to get your emails into the coveted Primary tab. And yet, a few calmer heads are realizing these changes are actually a blessing-they’re presenting marketers with a tremendous opportunity to improve their overall marketing strategy. In short, their advice goes something like this: You want to beat Gmail tabs? Know your audience better, so you can send better email.
What Does Your Audience Want?
Smart marketers know better than to rely on gut instincts or anecdotal evidence. The most effective email marketers invest in email intelligence. The more information you can gather about your customers, the better you’ll be able to segment your database, send targeted messages and make the right offers at the right times.
At its most basic, email intelligence allows you to personalize your emails. A report from Eloqua, the online marketing division of technology giant Oracle, found that using the recipient’s name in the subject line boosted average open rates by 5 percent. Adding just one more data point, such as the recipient’s location, actually doubled the open rates to 10 percent. And Marketing Sherpa has conducted tests where personalized messages improved click-through rates by as much as 17.36 percent.
Marketers can also take personalization to the next level by customizing the offers they send to each audience segment. A 2013 study conducted by The Economist and sponsored by Lyris found “about one in five consumers say customized offers are more likely to meet their needs than mass market offers. Consumer preference is highest for customized product recommendations.”
What does this mean for marketers who want to beat Gmail tabs? Sending relevant, effectively personalized emails makes it easier for a subscriber to recognize your emails and click on them. As Jay Baer says in his Baer Facts blog, if you’re an “honest-to-goodness provider of marketing so useful people would pay for it, Google could insert your emails into a den of vipers and people will still find a way to find and read them.”
Engagement Is the Metric to Watch
Even if Gmail’s new inbox system causes your open rate to drop, your click-through and conversion rates may actually increase. And in the grand scheme of things, these metrics are much more important than open rates.
“The open rate has always been a proxy for engagement,” says DJ Waldow in Entrepreneur. In fact, he predicts click-throughs and conversions will increase with the new Gmail because those subscribers who have taken the time to find your email in the Promotions tab or proactively move your email to the Primary tab “will now be more engaged with your emails and more likely to click.”
Ultimately, though, Alex Gawley, product manager with Gmail, reminds marketers the fundamentals of email marketing haven’t changed. In an interview with Marketingland, he reminds us of what we all know we should be doing in the first place: “Send people mail they expect to get from you. Send high-quality mail. Do all the right hygiene things you should be doing. If you send high quality and expected content to users, they’ll want to read it. That’s the best advice.” After all, he says, “It’s the end result that matters for marketers.”
So if you want to “beat” Gmail tabs, send timely, targeted, engaging, human emails to people who want them. Know your audience, and the Gmail changes will have little impact for you.
Learn more about email intelligence in the free guide “3 Ways to Modernize Your Email Marketing with Email Intelligence.”
Photo Credit: Philo Nordlund