With over 500 million users, Google’s Gmail service is the single most dominant email provider in the world. As a result, small changes to its features tend to make big waves. If you haven’t already noticed, Google has been slowly rolling out a new tabbed inbox to Gmail users over the last couple months. When enabled, Gmail will now automatically filter emails into one of four default folders:
4. and Updates.
With this update, largely an effort to reduce “inbox overload,” Google has some marketers concerned about having their revenue-driving email remarketing messages relegated to an easily ignored ‘Promotions’ tab.
The new Gmail inbox is still in its infancy and, as a result, it’s been difficult for email marketers to accurately assess the empirical impact of this new feature. For now, it appears that UpSellit’s Email ReMarketing platform remains largely unaffected by the new feature. Contrasting with other email service providers, our performance has actually increased since the feature’s implementation. Whether that’s due to our ongoing campaign optimization or the tabbed inbox remains unknown.
History Repeats Itself
The last big scare to jump out of Gmail was the “priority inbox,” which launched three years ago this month. At the time, email marketers were concerned that it would end email remarketing as we knew it. Now, it’s 2013 and email remarketing is only increasing in efficacy, despite marketers’ panic in the face of Google’s tweaks.
As is the case with most of Google’s recent releases, the priority inbox had a relatively low adoption rate and marketers haven’t seen a significant impact on open rates. The insignificance of the priority inbox may also be due to the fact that a large percentage of Gmail users don’t use Google’s native apps to check their mail: These days, many people juggle several accounts under different domains and often use Outlook or Apple Mail to manage their numerous accounts. This segment of users who prefer third-party mail managers will never even see the tabbed inbox, just as they never felt the impact of priority email.
A Mobile Impact?
As mobile open rates approach the 50% mark, marketers are concerned specifically with how the new tabs will affect those who check their mail on the go. When it comes to mobile, the two biggest segments to examine are Android and iOS users. Combined, these two operating systems hold over 92% market share on smartphone devices (Android with 52%, iOS with 40%) and over 95% of tablets (Android at 62.6% and iOS at 32.5%).
Android is a Google product and, as a result, it’s no surprise to see that tabbed inboxes have rolled out in force on these devices. However, iOS users will need to download the Gmail App or access gmail.com through a browser to experience the new features–which is seldom done due to the convenience of Apple’s default mail app.
Although the numbers seem to favor Android in a big way, market share is not the most important metric to evaluate in this case. According to research done by MarketingProfs.com, iOS users are 3.5 times more likely to open an email on a smartphone and 20 times more likely to open an email on a tablet than their Android-using peers. With Apple users generating the large majority of email opens, it looks like Gmail’s tabbed inboxes won’t be changing the entire mobile mail dynamic as some speculate.
Hinging on Participation
Even if a large portion of Gmail users are checking their email from a Google interface, there’s still the question of whether or not users will adopt the new feature. Just as with the priority inbox, there may very well be a large percentage of users who prefer the now-classic interface and turn off the tabs altogether. Other hypotheses suggest that the Promotions tab, with its colorful new mail notifications, will actually increase engagement and drive higher quality click-throughs. While this may seem like wishful thinking from marketers, only time will tell how Gmail’s new tabs will affect email remarketing efforts.
Until then, whether users are using non-Google interfaces, turning off the tabbed inbox or never opening their Promotions folder at all, UpSellit’s Email ReMarketing solution has managed to maintain the same impressive delivery, open and click-through rates as before. To learn more about UpSellit’s ReMarketing Solutions and how we can help you engage abandoning consumers, schedule a consultation.
Written by Joe Rosenthal