What Can You Do With Gmail’s Promotions Tab?

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!

Email is officially middle-aged!

This year, email is celebrating its 44th anniversary of the day in 1971 when computer engineer Ray Tomlinson sent the first electronic mail message. To celebrate, let’s take a look back at just how far email has come in the past 44 years.

History of Email Infographic

While email was first used in 1971, it took a few years to really catch on. In 1976, Queen Elizabeth II became the first head of state to send an electronic mail message, and two years later, the first electronically-sent advertisement went out over a network of government and university computers.

In 1982, the word “email” was first used, and emoticons entered our lexicon that year as well, when Scott Fahlman became the first person to use a smiley “emotion” in an email. The “You’ve got mail!” voice that you’d know anywhere was recorded in 1989 by radio man Elwood Edwards, along with other iconic AOL phrases (nearly ten years later, Warner Bros. released You’ve Got Mail the movie, which topped $250 million at the box office).

The business of email underwent some changes in 1997, when Microsoft bought Hotmail for about $400 million and Microsoft Outlook was released. Unfortunately, it was also around this time that Internet users began figuring out how to use email’s powers for evil; the word “spam” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1998, and in 1999, a fraudulent email claiming that Bill Gates was going to share his wealth with Internet users began to circulate and was ultimately forwarded by millions.

In 2001, the founding of ReachMail meant marketers could harness the power of opt-in email marketing. In the new millennium, email began to become more regulated. George W. Bush signed the CAN-SPAM Act into law in 2003, the country’s first national standards for sending commercial emails, and in 2004, the FTC codified email spam laws. (It’s unclear how much spam mail Homer Simpson received when he revealed in 2003 that his email address is “chunkylover53@aol.com”.)

Email embraced its light-hearted side in 2004, when LOL and several other Internet acronyms were officially recognized in the Oxford English Dictionary and multimedia emails were introduced after the MMS World Congress in Vienna. In 2005, email became more secure when SPF was established, a technology that verifies email senders’ identities, and in 2007, Google made Gmail available to the worldwide public. Also in 2007, the Internet Engineering Task Force adopted anti-phishing security protocol DKIM.

In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama worked to harness the power of email by compiling a database of over 13 million email addresses. Three years later, the AP Stylebook officially decided that electronic mail should now be abbreviated as “email” rather than “e-mail,” and a study found that the most easily hacked email password was “password,” followed by common sequences like “123456” and “qwerty.”

Now, Americans tend to access their email on the go using their smartphones; in 2012, the number of Americans emailing on mobile devices reached 90 million, with 64% of people reporting that they do so daily. In 2012, ReachMail announced free email marketing for life, making life even easier for marketers. To address the high volume of emails being sent and received, Google rolled out Gmail tabs in 2013 to ensure smarter sorting of email and less email overload.
In 2014, the major storyline of email was hacking. Most notably, Sony Entertainment was hacked, leading to the release of hundreds of sensitive emails. The U.S. government blamed North Korea, who denied responsibility.

In the past 44 years, email has gone from being a little-used form of communication reserved for only the most tech-savvy, to something so commonplace that it’s become part of our daily vocabulary. And just think- in the time that it took you to read this infographic, you probably got an e-mail.

Email Previews from Litmus

ReachMail is pleased to announce a new feature – email previews from Litmus®. Paid ReachMail accounts can view screenshots of your messages rendered in nine of the most popular email clients including iPhone 5s, Gmail, Apple Mail 6, iPad, Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook 2013 and AOL Mail.

You’ll see your email with images on by default. One click will display your message with images off.

Here’s an example of what you’d see:

To run the litmus preview, navigate to Mailings, create a Mailing and look at the drop-down menu. Click “Run Litmus Preview” and your report will generate. Check out our support documentation for further details.