How Gmail’s new tabs are affecting open rates?

Open rates play a crucial role in evaluating an online marketing campaign for advertisers. For all those, who are using email-marketing for promotional activities, the new interface has posed a serious concern about how the change is affecting their email’s open rates with the new Gmail tabs.

Gmail began the rollout of its new design in May 2013 which introduced a number of tabs, namely – Primary, Promotions, Updates etc. Where the new Gmail allow marketers to land up in others’ inbox, the hard part is it that such promotional mails end up in the promotions tab only – which a user might or might not care to open.

So now with one additional click for promotions tab, how is the Gmail new tabs actually affecting the open rates?

The fact that all marketing emails go to the promotions bar, the results could be – decline in open rates, for communications like sales newsletters by e commerce players who generally rely much on daily email marketing for selection of their catalogue. Where marketers always try to be on top of the list – on the cover – the new inbox places their messages in Promotions bar which users might or ‘might not’ care to open.

A Case Study

Mailchimp, which itself is an email marketing service provider, has witnessed fall in its Gmail open rates since the new Gmail design. The company saw a slight increase in it’s open rates for a few days right after Google introduced its new inbox, but soon everyone was done figuring out the new design of their email – there’s been a constant fall. “Before the tabbed layout, open rates to Gmail had been above 13% for 15 weeks, which now have fallen to slightly above 12% from last 3 consecutive weeks” said company in a blog post.

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(Image Credit: Mailchimp.com)

What Could be done ?

If a business manages to gain attention of its customers in first attempt, chances are that user decides to move emails from that particular business into his/her Primary tab and – voilà ! As all promotional emails go to ‘promotions bar’ and brands are fighting a more fierce competition, the subject lines and offers need to be even more attractive to stand apart from the rest.

According to another marketing firm, Hubspot, the new Gmail brings new opportunities for marketers with its Promotional bar, as when people choose to go to promotions tab, they’re already open to receiving advertisements. Moreover, it prevents users from wading through a billion irrelevant messages in the general inbox as earlier, to get to that particular message/promotion they’re looking for. Also the fact that promotional emails now land among fewer contemporaries generally ends up with less chances of mass-deletion.

Overall the impact of this Gmail change is unknown until more people start using it. But one thing that seems quite possible is that over the time, once users completely understand this new interface, which sometimes – in the learning process – accidently land them into promotions bar giving unwanted exposure to brands and their messages, the open rates can continue to fall to a certain point.

Also, with Google placing its own ads at the top of the Promotions tab and making them appear like legitimate emails, pushing the actual emails down – it has created yet another spam holder as Promotions tab.

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Ultimately the bottom line which digital marketing experts say still remains the same as – write email which your readers want to open and for that they can find you from anywhere.

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  • Gaurav Jha

    There are so many brands who are doing great in maintaining sync with users attention by providing them feeds with the statistics of the particular user. So, If you can personalize your product via digital algorithm with respect to the readers & use other cookie data like: What article was opened, How long your website was viewed, How many time & what category of article – will surely help in giving your users what they want and giving you what your want.

    Key here is: Personalize Your Product.

  • Canvass

    We, at Canvass, help our SMB clients run large scale email marketing campaigns (http://canvass.in/email-marketing). Looking at our app analytics before and after May 29th, 2013 (the day the Gmail changes went live), we can see a clear trend of open rates dropping by 15-20% after Gmail tabs was introduced. Our data sample is not nearly as large as the 1.5B+ emails that MailChimp has analyzed, so I am sure our numbers are skewing towards one or the other extreme. As expected, many of our clients are worried about how this affects them. We have consistently advised our clients to maintain a clean and engaged email list, which will help alleviate this concern to a great extent.

    — Rahul, Canvass