Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Impact of Gmail Tabs on your Email Marketing

Impact of Gmail Tabs on your Email Marketing

It has almost been a year since Gmail introduced the new tabbed inbox, objectively stating that the user would be able to control the inbox rather than the other way round.

From a user’s perspective, this is surely a great improvement. Instead of getting the bulk of your email in one single inbox and missing out on some awesome promotions (because these might disappear in the junk folder), the user is able to classify or segregate his/her emails.
On the contrary from email marketer’s perspective, it sounded a panic bell because the first thought that pops in mind is the dip in open rates.

What one needs to understand is with this tabs feature, Google is not trying to stop promotional email; rather they want a cut of the action. The fact that Google has put its new email like Ads in the promotional tab means they want, intend and indeed need users to go to the promotional tab.

The initial research by NetGains Technologies, considering only a few weeks’ worth of opens, projected that open rates took a hit. Later, after considering months’ worth of various kind of engagement data, precisely 2.9 million emails, 0.49 million opens, 0.42 million clicks, and 43.5 K unsubscribes to figure out how Gmail’s tabs are affecting open rates, the conclusion is that Gmail’s tabbed inbox is working as intended and Open rates have definitely taken a plunge of 1% from 13% to 12 %.

Open Rate Change after Gmail Tabs’ launch

This data represents a 25-week period from May to October.
Open rate change w.r.t other Email Service Providers

Opens from Gmail subscribers have fallen off nearly twice as much as any other Email service providers like yahoo, hotmail etc.

Reversely, during holidays, the user’s inbox gets inundated with emails especially the promotional emails. Most of the users unsubscribe during these periods. This practice has been reduced by Gmail users ever since the tabs have been introduced.
Gmail’s opens are down, the click rate is neutral, but unsubscribes haven’t gone up.
Too early to conclude
At first glance, it looks like the introduction of the tabbed inbox caused a considerable decrease in the number of Gmail opens but there are non-supporters, which include Gmail apps on mobile, popular clients such as Apple Mail and desktop/webmail clients that import Gmail messages, such as Outlook and Yahoo.
Moreover, at this point there is no clarity about:
·         What percentage of users around the world now have access to Gmail Tabs on either the Web interface or a Gmail mobile app?
·         How many Gmail users may have turned off  or disabled or removed Tabs and gone back to other inbox formats, such as Priority or an unfiltered inbox
Open rates do provide a view of email marketing campaign impact. However, open rates are not strong and sole indicator of commercial success and they are not directly proportional to conversion at all. To really understand if your activity has been impacted check your conversion and revenue metrics, look at whether the revenue per Gmail subscriber per month changes.
If you can’t check your revenue then check your click rate. Some email platforms provide a report out of the box to segment campaign performance by domain.
Ultimately, the effect Gmail’s new inbox has on your email marketing depends on the relationship you have with your subscribers.
We’re beginning to see changes in Gmail subscriber engagement, but it's not clear yet how much of this is being driven by Tabs.
For Short term, promotional emails may be opened less, but for long term, it would prove to be win-win for both Gmail users and marketers.

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