How to Take Advantage of Gmail’s Evolving User Experience

Don’t wait for an invitation to start tailoring your email marketing for Gmail’s new Inbox app. Launched at the end of October, Inbox is still invite-only, and interested Gmail users have to either request an invite from Gmail or bug their friends to send them a golden ticket. If you’re not already studying Inbox, here’s a preview of the email marketing experience and how you can make it work better for your Gmail subscribers.

Gmail’s Inbox expands on Google’s 2013 design change, Tabs, adding four additional tabs (now called Bundles) and offering users the ability to create their own personalized bundles, sorted by sending address. Inbox also includes new features geared toward making the email experience more personal and fun.

Highlights:

A revamp of Quick Actions, highlights allows users to save time by offering them a quick overview of their emails. In Gmail’s standard version, Quick Actions would appear subtly after the preheader, but in Inbox, these links are more pronounced and add to the presentation of the email. Below are the standard Gmail and new Inbox versions of the same message. In Gmail I receive the standard presentation of sender and subject line with the addition of a quick link redirecting me to USPS to track my shipment. With the same message in Inbox, not only do I get a link to track my package, but I also have an expected date and an image of my purchase right in my inbox.

Gmail:

gmail-amazon-email

Inbox:

inbox-amazon-email

These highlights are not limited to purchased goods. They can include quick links to YouTube videos, website links, and reservation details of restaurants and flights, including updated status information.

These highlights provide subscribers with additional information without effort from customers. Messages that include information like this will offer a more streamlined and helpful experience, saving your customers the time it takes to search for this information themselves.

Bundles:

As I mentioned, after the success of Gmail’s Tabs launch, Inbox has remodeled, increased, and renamed tabs “Bundles.” The Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums tabs have made the transition into Inbox and are now joined by Travel, Purchases, and Finance. These three additions help decongest the Updates folder, which previously contained any financial, travel, and transactional updates along with newsletters and notifications. With Inbox, users’ itineraries won’t be buried between receipts and finance notifications. For travel senders, email confirmations and updates should become more valuable to Gmail subscribers now that they have their own designated section of the inbox.

Reminders:

A new feature, Reminders allows subscribers to create their own personalized reminders as well as to “snooze” messages for later. The Reminders option provides four pre-populated optional snooze times: later today, tomorrow, next week, and someday. Users can choose “pick date and time,” allowing them to create their own custom reminders.

For those with a more flexible schedule, (non-9-to-5) they will enjoy the location-dependent “Reminder Option.” Customers who have varying work hours will have the ability to be reminded when they get home or into work, regardless of when that is.

Marketers can take advantage of this option by asking customers to set a reminder for ongoing sales or offer deadlines, either for a specific time or for when they can visit a store.

Verified:

Authentication, Google’s version of the verified checkmark, shows the company logo next to the “from” address in the inbox. When subscribers see your message with your logo next to competitors’ efforts without logos, they get a clear indication of whose they can trust. It’s also more eye-catching and distinctive.

For example I received emails from Kate Spade and Michael Kors – one with a logo and one without. With its logo prominently showing in my inbox, Kate Spade draws attention to its brand. Michael Kors only gets the letter “M” in place of its logo. Brands that want their logos to appear need to be authenticated with either SPF or DKIM, have a Google+ presence, and register with Google’s developer program.

google-inbox-promotional-emails

As Inbox becomes the common subscriber experience, taking these steps to reinforce your brand makes sense – don’t wait.

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