If capturing and sending email is a part of your blog – it might be your newsletter, affiliate programs, sales email or even just reader comment notifications – there are some changes (that have been looming for some time) that will impact the way you create and send emails …
Email services providers are taking matters into their own hands to “fix” our inbox’s.
… and when Google start leading the charge with this, we all better pay attention.
The reality is that our own inbox is a never ending stream of important stuff mixed with the boring but essential stuff, mixed with the junk mail and spam. Sorting and organising it all takes time and if your not on top of it, important emails get lost in the noise.
It’s a problem we’ve been trying to solve since the dawn of email:
- We were given functionality to use such as folders, and auto-filter rules
- We were given blocking tools such as spam filters and junk folders
- We were given techniques to try such as inbox zero
All of these things were created for users to help themselves — if they wanted to.
I realised this was all about to change when providers started to play with the idea of proactively helping us manage legitimate emails by trying to figure out the important emails over the less important ones. Google’s priority inbox is a great example of this.
However, now Google have taken another step and are organising our emails into groups — based on their own rules.
If you’re a Gmail user (not everyone seems to have this yet) at some point you’ll see the primary inbox, social inbox, and promotions inbox magically appear.
Google will, using it’s own wisdom, sort all your email into these groups.
You will be able to ‘train’ google by dragging emails from one inbox to another and hidden nicely away in the settings you can turn it off. But if history is anything to go by only a small percentage will actually do either of those actions.
So what will this mean for sending emails right now?
Time will only tell what the open and click-through rate implications will be as more users realise there are now three inboxes instead of one. But I’m fairly confident in saying that we’ll all be aiming for the priority inbox.
Mailchimp have already release some preliminary findings, with a noticeable impact.
Now, not only will you have to be thinking about spam filters, trash folders and how your email looks on mobile, you’ll also need to be mindful of how Google will categorise your email.
Oh, and that’s of course after you come up with some great copy!
You can go on the front foot and ask your reader to tell Google to shift you to the priority inbox, but that’s difficult right now as not all Gmail users have the service.
Your best action, right now, is to track your open rates and click-through rates closely and start testing different approaches. Just like SEO and spam, Google won’t share it’s rules for classification, so we’re going to have to figure them out on our own. You might want to play with text emails, you might want to play with different from addresses and service providers.
It’s time to re-test some of the assumptions we’ve made when it comes to email.
What have we seen with our own emails
We’ve noticed on dPS that both our launch emails from new product (this week) as well as our weekly newsletter were put in the ‘promotional’ tab. What was probably more concerning what that the confirmation (opt-in) email from our newsletter also ended up in promotions tab.
Open rates were slightly down for both. So we’re keeping an eye on things – but it’s still too early to tell. I have received direct emails from a few people I subscribe requesting to be moved across to the priority inbox, but without knowing exactly who has the change it feels too early to ask that.
But that’s just the beginning
When spam filters first arrived there was period where they needed to earn our trust. We needed to believe that they would do a good job of keeping out only spam and not the stuff we wanted to receive. Over time they succeeded and the performance of spam filters are hardly given a second thought. Once that same trust is given to the automatic organisation of our legitimate emails the complexities of this will skyrocket. More venders will get involved, more rules will be put into play.
What I Like about this
For those creating quality email content that people want to read, these sorts of systems are designed to work for you. If your emails are a priority for your recipients you should benefit from this. There will be some slight adjustments to make, I’m sure. The people trying to push their way into peoples inbox’s will feel the impact more than those who’ve earned it.
What worries me about this change
Even as a bit of a nerd, I struggled to ‘train’ my inbox. It was even harder do it via my phone. So that has really drawn me to the conclusion that our challenge is not going to be in educating our subscribers, the challenge will be working within the rules that Google won’t share with us. We can’t forget that Google have a commercial interest in this, and the idea of paying for the priory inbox isn’t without question. Nor is the idea of 3rd party messages appearing in the promotions tab either.
Fun times ahead.