“Boasting over 500 million user accounts, Gmail is an undisputed juggernaut in the email space. So, it stood to reason Google would take advantage of this dominant position and release a competitor to other recent email organization apps like Mailbox.” (Source: IGN)
In 2014, Google’s Gmail underwent a radical overhaul and among the changes included was a redesign of how the inbox organizes email; offering five new optional tabs: primary, social, promotions, updates and forums. These categories aim to make it easy for users to read messages of the same type all at once, and keep track of mail.
At the time, digital marketers were panicked and in an uproar because, thanks to Google’s superior sort algorithm, promotional and social emails would soon be directed straight to the applicable tab. It was thought that those emails would be filed as spam in the reader’s eyes and never be seen again.
As EmailMonks.com, writer Adrienne Erin explained, “Companies who send out newsletters are unhappy with the change. [Since] these emails will automatically be sent to the ‘Promotions’ or ‘Social’ tab in most cases. ‘Primary’ is the default tab, [so] many users will only infrequently check the other tabs, implying that last-minute sales will be missed and other promotions will be seen less frequently.”
Yet, despite the upheaval, it was later assumed that people would be more inclined to look at social and promotional items when they were clearly labeled in a non-intrusive place, and the world of Internet marketing relaxed.
Now Google as done it again with a new app known as Inbox. And it has left many digital marketers wondering how it will impact their email marketing strategies. If you work with an SEO company or are invested in digital marketing you should be aware of Inbox and it’s implications.
Understanding Google’s Inbox App
It is generally understood that Google’s new Inbox app was created to ‘fix’ email and it looks sleeker and could make for a more intuitive experience when navigating through emails. In short, it picks up and does the heavy lifting where Gmail left off. While Gmail has always been compatible with mobile platforms, Inbox takes the next step and creates a system where mail is optimized for smartphone use.
As CNN reports, “Specifically created with mobile users in mind, it sorts and turns emails into reminders, highlights the important bits and adds outside information it thinks is helpful. Even as people are turning to other tools to quickly communicate from their phones — messaging apps, social networks, text — email remains an invaluable if sometimes infuriating way of communicating from mobile devices.”
Essentially, Inbox creates a hub for your contacts. Sorting emails more effectively, users can access information and search related topics with ease.
What Google’s Inbox App Means For Marketers
What marketers are most interested in is the Bundle system that Inbox offers. Essentially, Gmail’s interface sorts emails into five tabbed categories. This is the limit of its functionality.
With Bundles, which are user-generated, the concept is taken one step further. According to reviews, “Moving emails to new bundles is a breeze, as is creating new ones to store particular types of messages. Gmail’s Categories are occasionally frustrating, as the system sometimes spreads emails incorrectly among its generic tabs and makes them a pain to find. Thankfully . . . Inbox’s use of Bundles a bit smarter, and the system appears to learn from its mistakes, as it sorts future emails more accurately after you make changes.”
For example, if you receive a flight confirmation it will automatically go to your travel bundle. There are seven pre-set bundles: travel, purchases, finance, social, updates, forums and promos. Users have the option to create additional bundles with customizable rules.
Bundles are an interesting concept for marketers as it has become obvious that having a special folder dedicated to a company or services in a customer’s Inbox is a great idea. If the customer opens their shopping tab and sees your company name there, they will be reminded that you exist and that they like your product or service.
Every marketer and small business owner has made mistakes when it comes to email marketing. There is no shame in it, but the truth remains that you may leave out essential information when communicating with customers.
For example, if you have shipped a product, you may have sent an email, but failed to note the date the item was shipped, or provide a tracking number for convenience. However, with Inbox’s organization and filing system, a user is able to see information that is not directly in the email, which automatically adds value to your communication.
There is an old adage that states anything of value to consumers is something that should be of value to marketers. The truth is, more information is better and that is essentially what Inbox aims to provide. As a marketer, you can leverage Inbox to get more information to customers. Start by ensuring your email content is relevant and searchable.
According to Direct Marketing News, online promotions actually saw a 1% increase when the new tabbed interface on Gmail launched. So, as long as you learn to roll with the new change provided by Inbox, there is nothing to say that Inbox cannot do the same.
How will Inbox impact your current email marketing strategies and revenue? That depends. So, stay alert, find ways to optimize your email strategies and stay on top of Google’s new mobile app – as your customers likely will too.
This article has been edited and condensed.
After multiple failed startups, and a few that stuck, Xander Schofield has learned a lot. Schofield spends his time consulting tech startups toward success. When he’s not writing or consulting, Xander can be found walking on the beach with his beautiful wife and two french bulldogs. Connect with @XandScho on Twitter.