Take a good look at the image below. From a glance, it looks like your standard ad — perhaps something you’d find in the corner of a news website. The ad below is actually a promotional email displayed with Gmail’s new Grid View, an innovation that’s poised to make a huge impact on email remarketing.
This fresh user experience is another entry in Google’s recent, prolific campaign to overhaul email remarketing at large. Over the last few months, Google introduced the tabbed inbox, sending many marketers into a panic, frenzied over a potential drop in market penetration. When Googled rolled out auto-image caching and display, personalization companies despaired. Now, Google is testing the next big change to the customer inbox with Google Grid View, which offers an excitingly unique look at emails in the promotions tab. Just as with the other changes, getting worked up into a panic should be the last option on your list; being prepared is key.
Today, we’re going to take a look at Google’s new offering and analyze the potential benefits and methods for getting on-board early.
Why Grid View Matters
From the outside looking in, the shift from a simple, text-only subject line to serving a hero image directly to an inbox might not seem like a momentous change, but any email remarketer would tell you otherwise. Why?
- A Shift in Metrics – Suddenly, an email’s open rate may no longer tell the full tale of a campaign’s success. Displaying your tag-line of choice and an image may be enough to get your point across. Just as with on-page advertisements, grid view gives remarketing emails a chance to influence without an open.
- A Live Feed – Just as with all emails sent to gmail users, images populate when the reader loads the message. This gives you the opportunity to ensure that the image delivered is still relevant by the time the user accesses it.
Why Email Remarketers Should Act Now
Yes, Google’s Grid View is still in beta and, as we all know, Google has little to no issue with cutting off projects that simply don’t make the grade (see Wave, Reader, and the rest of the Google Graveyard). While there’s no guarantee that this new promotional tab view will become the standard for all users, an email overhaul is long overdue, and it looks like Google has the right idea. The off-chance of Grid View cancellation aside, here’s why now is the best time to start adapting:
- Readiness Disparity – There is a distinct and clear-cut difference between emails that are prepared for the grid view and those that are not. By properly formatting your images and messaging beforehand, you’ll have an immense advantage over those who haven’t. Both emails in the image above are introductory letters with roughly the same content, but the message from Fab stands heads above Groupon’s effort. All of Fab’s images have been properly sized and tagged to fit within grid view requirements, giving them a much more vibrant showing in the inbox.
- List Hygiene – Google is known for being ahead of the pack with innovations. Until Google Grid View successfully sets a trend, however, it may be a good idea to restrict formatting changes to those with “@gmail.com” email addresses. Prepare your lists and rewrite any rules and exceptions now to make sure everyone gets the right message.
- Early Innovation – If the amount of time spent on optimizing subject lines and email copy is any indication, there’s a lot of work to be done before featured images are used optimally. The possibilities are expansive and can include such tactics as dynamic email remarketing. Sending an image of an item left in a cart to be displayed within the inbox may have drastic effects on conversion and website abandonment rates. There’s testing to be done!
How Can I Change My Email Remarketing?
Enough about the what and why–it’s time for some how. How can I format my remarketing emails to work properly with Grid View? Courtesy of Google, here’s what a blank, new template looks like. We’re going to list off what you need to know to make sure your remarketing emails look nothing like it by the time it reaches customers’ screens.
- Character Limits – The “from” label is limited to 20 characters and the subject shouldn’t exceed 75 characters. Anything over the maximum will be truncated to fit within the format. Although it’s not required that you stay under these limits, it’s highly recommended.
- The Featured Image – The main event of your email, the featured image is primarily what makes the Grid View such an interesting prospect. To ensure that your image gets formatted properly, make it as close to 580px by 400px as possible. Unless otherwise specified, Grid View will choose an image within the body of the email closest to these dimensions and crop it to display neatly. Although Gmail will reach for images included within the email by default, with the proper markup, you can use a separate image, one that doesn’t appear in the body of your message. Supported file types include JPEG, PNG, and GIF–even animated GIFs are supported, but will be displayed as a static image.
- The Sender Image – The sender image is a particularly interesting tidbit. This little “profile picture” for your email is taken directly from a verified Google+ account. This clever play from Google means that, if you’re not already, you need to make an appearance on their social network in order to yield full Grid View benefits.
Once you’ve got your formatting squared away, it’s time to test with actual clients and carefully analyze the results. For more information on email remarketing strategies and reducing website abandonment rates, contact UpSellit.
Written by Bryan Gudmundson