Short answer: No.
Longer answer: It’s (waaaay) too early to tell.
Even longer answer: Keep reading.
Seems like a lot of email marketers are worried about Gmails new inbox changes. If someone wants your email, they’ll find it. Agree?
— DJ Waldow (@djwaldow) July 24, 2013
That’s my 140-character take (Tweet this)
Matt Grove over at Mailchimp wrote How Gmail’s New Inbox Is Affecting Open Rates yesterday. For his analysis, he looked back at the past 18 months of client emails to Gmail accounts – 12.5 billion emails and more than 2 billion unique opens. He then compared that to past 6 weeks of sends (1.5 billion emails) … since the time Gmail introduced its new “tabbed” inbox.
(I’m not a stats guy, but that all seems reasonable to me)
If you are not sure what these Gmail inbox changes are that I’m referring to, the Mailchimp blog post has a nice explanation (as well as a few outbound links) that will explain. See the “What’s up with tabs” section of this post.
Grove continues …
I’m not willing to declare an emergency just yet. After all, I don’t even know what the adoption rate is on Gmail’s side. However, I would say this is an early indicator, and we’re definitely keeping our eye on it.
I agree. See my “short answer” and “longer answer” above.
But some marketers are … how shall I say … FREAKING OUT!
In the past 12 hours, I’ve received about a half dozen emails – from newsletters that I’ve subscribed to – providing instructions on how to ensure their emails land in my “primary” tab. Some of those emails are referencing this great “How to Disable Gmail Tabs” video from Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner.
Others are just providing some steps to “deal” with Gmail’s new tabbed inbox.
Still others, like one I received from my buddy John Morgan today, said he was “so aggravated [he] could scream!” To be clear, John was aggravated that so many of those “here-is-how-to-fix-Gmail-so-you-keep-getting-my-emails” messages were sent without any reason as to WHY I should want to continue reading your emails.
There was also this blog post - These New GMail changes hurt you (and me). Do this to fix it - (also sent via email) from Derek Halpern of Social Triggers. He writes:
In a lot of cases, GMail labels content-filled emails as “Promotions.”
That means, if you send content to your list (like I do), your content will be featured alongside spammy Promotional emails.
Not only does this negatively affect your brand, but it also puts people are at risk of NOT getting your emails. The emails they signed up for. The emails they WANT.
While I agree that having your emails land next to “spammy Promotional emails” is not a good thing, I’d argue that if you have “spammy Promotional emails” in your inbox, you need to start unsubscribing or marking them as spam. There is no reason to be getting unwanted emails these days. It’s easy to unsubscribe or mark as spam. It’s time to take back control of your inbox!
Again, to be clear, I’m not opposed to any of these emails or the blog post from Derek Halpern. I think it’s smart to alert your loyal email subscribers about Gmail’s changes. In fact, I’ve considered doing the same for my audience. The “How to Disable Gmail Tabs” video from Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner is short, simple, and very clear.
However, I still think it’s way (WAAAAAY) to early to truly understand the impact of Gmail’s new tabbed inbox.
And before you get all fired up and lash out at Gmail, remember that its focus has always been – and most likely always will be – on the user experience. It’s not about you – the email marketer. It’s about you – and your audience – the consumer.
If you are legitimately worried about the recent Gmail changes, here is what I recommend:
1. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Chug some water. Walk around the block.
2. Create a segment of your email list showing only subscribers with a Gmail address.
3. Run some reports to see what the historic (pre Gmail changes) open, click, and (most importantly) conversion rate is of your Gmail subscribers. This is what Mailchimp did, but its focus was on opens only.
4. Run that same report but change the start date to May 29th (when Gmail first announced these changes). Keep in mind that the May 29th date was when it was announced. Gmail has slowly been rolling it out ever since. It would seem quite a few folks are getting it this week.
5. Finally, compare your historic metrics for Gmail subscribers (#3) to the new report (#4).
My bet is that your open rates may be down. And that’s okay. The open rate has always been a proxy for engagement, but for most marketers, clicks and conversions are the metrics that matter more. More on that in a minute.
My other bet is that your click to open rates are up. And that’s good. Click to open is the number of subscribers who click on at least one link after opening your email. Click to open tells you how compelling you email actually is (assuming you have good calls to action that make people want to click). I predict this metric will increase as those folks who have taken the time to “find” your email in the “promotions” or “updates” tab in Gmail OR have proactively moved you email to the “primary” tab will now be more engaged with your emails … and more likely to click.
My final bet is that if you send timely, targeted, valuable, human emails to people who want them, the Gmail changes will have little impact. (tweet this)
Now, if you notice your conversions (webinar registrations, eBook/Whitepaper downloads, sales, and so on) for Gmail subscribers have decreased, then you can get upset. I’d be willing to bet this will not be the case.
If I’m wrong, well, come back here in a few months and leave a comment. That’s the risk in making bold predictions. Ha!
Okay, I’m off to email my subscribers – all of them – about this blog post. I don’t want them to freak out.
P.S. If you are a Gmail user and you hate the new look and feel, read Why Are You Complaining About Gmail’s New Changes? post by Kevin Rose to reminisce about what email used to look like. Namaste, as Rose says.
UPDATE : The folks at Marketo (my new employer!) published a blog post that talks more about Gmail’s tabs. They secured some great quotes from some industry leaders (including one from me – ha!).
P.S. Have you heard the news? Nick Westergaard and I have started a weekly podcast called The Work Talk Show, where we interview crazy-smart folks about how work gets done. Give the latest episode a listen!
DID YOU KNOW…
I recently launched a new online course, Email Marketing Made Simple, that promises to help make you a better email marketer.
-Having trouble growing your email list?
-Not sure what a preheader is?
-Avoiding using the word “free” in your subject lines because someone told you it was a “rule.”
-Having trouble figuring out how to use social media and email marketing together?
-Not sure what you should be testing and how often?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions (or all 5!), I can help.