Are You Still Reaching Your Gmail Customers?
Gmail recently reorganized not only your inbox, but also those of your customers. Everyone’s incoming emails are now sorted into as many as five different tabs, with Gmail making the default call on which messages land where.
So, what does this new delivery scheme — which affects some 425 million users — mean for your email marketing efforts? Your messages probably aren’t getting delivered to customers’ main inboxes anymore. Here’s how to make sure you still reach them.
The New Tab Hierarchy
Let’s start with the categories users may see when they open their Gmail inboxes:
1. Primary — Located front and center, this tab is where messages from friends, family, and colleagues typically arrive.
2. Social — This is the landing spot for notifications from social networks.
3. Promotions — This tab holds messages that inform users about discounts, deals, special offers, and the like.
4. Updates — This tab receives emails containing virtual paperwork, such as receipts, bills, and statements.
5. Forums — Notifications from online groups and discussion boards reside here.
It’s likely that your marketing emails, the ones full of information about your products or services (perhaps including coupons), are sitting behind the Promotions tab in quite a few customers’ inboxes.
Think your message is better off in the Primary tab than elsewhere in customers’ inboxes? Reach out to your distribution list, explain the changes, and let people know that they can change where your messages end up.
That’s what Cailen Ascher, founder of Calm Biz, a resource for yoga instructors, did. “As soon as I saw the change rolling out, I composed an email to my list explaining the tabs and how they could make adjustments to ensure they would still get my e-newsletter if they chose to,” Ascher says. “As a small-business owner, I knew the tab system had to be addressed if I didn’t want to see my open rate radically decline.”
In her note, Ascher explained to customers that they can move a message out of the Promotions tab by dropping and dragging it into the Primary one. A prompt then appears asking whether all future messages from the sender should also be categorized as Primary. (Ascher also mentioned that she opted to get rid of the tab system altogether by going into Settings and directing every email to Primary.)
If you decide to talk to your customers about the changes, it’s important to note that Gmail often supports email from other domains. In other words, not everyone using Gmail has a @gmail.com address. So you can’t just send a message to obvious Gmail accounts, because you will miss some customers; you want to inform your entire distribution list of what's going on.
Carla Turchetti is a veteran broadcast, print and digital journalist who is passionate about small businesses and the stories behind them. Carla is a small-business columnist at the News & Observer, the regional daily newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina.