By now, you’ve probably heard about the recent change that Gmail has begun to roll out called the “Promotions” tab. If you’re blissfully unaware, Google is now filtering users’ emails and automatically filing what they deem to be marketing-related away from the primary inbox and into a separate tab. What does this change mean for email marketers? Well, so far, the impact has been relatively minor, with reports of a drop in open rate of around 1-2%. While this may not seem like a huge amount, it can still ultimately affect your bottom line, and with the rollout still not complete, we could see these numbers rise.
The good news is, there are some things you can do to counteract this new feature and improve the chances of your emails effectively reaching the primary inboxes of your target audience. Here’s how.
First and foremost, don’t make it obvious that your emails are promotional in nature. Instead, focus on crafting messages that have a more personal feel. You can accomplish by applying the following guidelines:
- Address each recipient by name
- Format your messages more like traditional letters
- Keep your messages short and to the point
- Avoid using too many images
- Limit links to just one or two
Not only do these things make the reader feel like they are being addressed individually rather than receiving a mass sales pitch, but Google tends to view these types of messages the same way, which means they’re less likely to be flagged as “promotional.”
Next, focus on the actual content of your emails. The ultimate goal isn’t just to avoid being relegated to the “promotions” folder, but to actually get your recipients to open and read your messages. This isn’t going to happen unless they feel as though doing so will be worth their while. Make sure you’re delivering content that is useful and valuable to your target audience. The more engaged your recipients are, the less likely your messages will be rerouted to the circular file.
Of course, you can’t expect people to open your emails if you’re not drawing them in with captivating and compelling subject lines. Think of these as the wrapping on a gift. You want your subject lines to catch the eye of your target audience and entice them into wanting to open up and see what’s inside.
You also have to know what words and phrases tend to trigger Gmail’s auto-filtering feature. For instance, research has shown that using words like “free,” especially when in combination with other common words, like “trial,” “sample,” or “quote” in your subject line can significantly increase the likelihood of your email being flagged. Your best bet? Grab a thesaurus and find a really good synonym.
Another simple way you can help your emails avoid ending up in the promotions tab is to simply reach out and talk to your customers. Many still haven’t received the new feature and those who have may not even be aware of the change. Others may not realize they can control their email options. Start by educating your audience about the new feature and then provide specific instructions on how they can ensure that they continue to receive your messages. (Provided you’re doing your job of delivering quality content, this part shouldn’t be that challenging because your audience will actually want to keep reading your emails.)
Another way you can take much of the guesswork out of making sure your emails end up where you want them to is by working with an email marketing service provider – preferably one that knows how to leverage technology to maximize deliverability. This includes things like automatic white-listing, identity authentication, spam analysis and ongoing monitoring, all of which can dramatically improve the chances of your emails making the cut the first time, every time.
Finally, it’s important to point out that while these tips are effective, they’re not foolproof. There’s really no magical formula for “beating the system,” so to speak. For this reason, you’ll also want to take appropriate measures so that if your emails do end up in the promotions tab, your audience will go looking for them. Some tricks of the trade include creating more time-sensitive offers and using a numbered sequence in your emails (i.e. part 1 of 4, etc.). Play on your readers’ fear of missing out.
So, whether you’ve already begun experiencing the backlash of this latest Gmail feature, or you’re trying to plan ahead, it’s never too early to start developing a strategy to help lessen the impact this change will have on your bottom line. The tips and tricks listed above should help position you for ongoing success in your future email marketing endeavors. Finally, you can experiment at no extra cost by signing up with free email marketing provider ReachMail where you can get a free account for life!