OK, so maybe the chatter is coming more from marketers than consumers, but I know at least one Gmail subscriber who doesn't appreciate the tabs. No, it isn't me - I actually like them. That subscriber happens to be my husband. I caught him cursing at the computer the other day because he couldn't find an email in his Gmail desktop inbox that he could see on his phone. He'll adjust.
I do not know whether my husband's frustration represents the viewpoint of most Gmail subscribers, but I do know that marketers are grabbing this opportunity to send all of us a barrage of "fix your email" messages, encouraging and educating us on how best to manage our Gmail tabs. For example, I got an email from Groupon with a clever and compelling headline ("Heads up: Fix Yo Groupon") and two simple steps I could take to make sure I get my deals before they sell out.
And here's an example from hourly job site Snagajob.com, driven by the fact that job seekers aren't looking for job alert notifications in their Promotions tab. Note the clever subject line here, too: ☜ We belong over there. Put us there!
These are two great examples. But is this "fix your email" approach beneficial for every brand right now, and do you need to send one?
What Does It Say to Consumers?
What are we really saying to our subscribers by providing such succinct instructions? Are we insinuating that they don't know how to maneuver their Gmail inbox without specific instructions from the email marketing community? Consumers are pretty technology savvy these days - they are used to online organizations changing things up - Facebook is constantly making changes to how consumers engage with the site and Gmail has been no stranger to making changes to its inbox experience, either. Is it safe to assume that consumers have become comfortable with these changes and that they adjust their engagement behavior accordingly? Maybe. But is it too soon to assume that straight away?
How Many Times Do We Need to Say It?
Here's the challenge. The first time a consumer sees a tutorial-like email from a marketer, she has now been sufficiently educated on how to handle the conundrum of prioritizing her favorite marketing messages - so what is the added value of receiving the second, third, or fourth informative email? This type of messaging may cause some annoyance or frustration for the consumer, so it may be beneficial to monitor your competitors to see if they have provided this instruction to customers already. It may have even come from non-competitors or other verticals, making it even more important to strike while the iron is hot.
When Do You Say It?
If you haven't shared instructions with your Gmail subscribers yet, and you do feel that doing so is driven by a unique situation (similar to the Snagajob example above), you should send the message soon. There is a shelf life on this type of messaging, and that life can be shortened when others may have communicated this information already.
Where Do You Say It?
The examples shared here are standalone messages, but they don't necessarily have to be. Consider including Gmail tab management instructions as primary or secondary content within an existing email communication to encourage the placement of your messaging in the Primary tab. Just be sure that the message goes to your Gmail subscribers only. This may be a good option if you are a little late getting your instructional email out. When delivered alongside other content, the instructional portion is more likely to be interpreted as an "Oh, by the way…" tip or trick, whereas a standalone email, where the instruction is the single call-to-action, could seem more intrusive than helpful.
Do You Need to Say It at All?
To determine if you have a Gmail engagement issue, you should be monitoring your engagement metrics. Take a look at open and click behavior for your Gmail subscribers - compare your April 28 through June 28 metrics to June 28 through July 29 and see if there are any marked drops. If so, then you should probably send some version of the "fix your email" message. If things are status quo, it is safe to assume they have figured it out. Happy tabbing!
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
A 12-year email marketing veteran, Kara has been actively involved in programmatic email development, execution, and strategy in a variety of senior positions on the client, agency, and provider side. Most recently, Kara was founder and principal of The Email Advisor, a respected email marketing consultancy focusing on email strategy and channel optimization. Prior to launching The Email Advisor, Kara led strategic services for the email division of Premiere Global Services, where she worked with global organizations structuring a variety of custom email education programs, conceptualizing and implementing new and innovative email programs, optimizing contact strategies, and developing staffing and budget plans.
March 19, 2014