Thursday, 20 June 2013

Gmail tabs, good for users, bad for marketers

Google recently rolled out an optional enhancement to the standard Gmail UI. The new tabed interface pre filters your mail into five groups:

Primary - friends and mail that does not fit in the other tabs
Promotions - deals, offers etc
Socials - updates from social networks, etc
Updates - reciepts, notifications, statements form banks utility companies, etc
Forums - discussion boards, groups etc 

The algorithms do a good job of putting the right mail in the right tabs. From a user perspective it greatly enhances the email experience. My inbox is no longer clogged with low priority mail, I can focus on the important stuff very easily. Of course users could have already done something similar with filters and folders, but this solution required no user effort and intuitive.

But from the point of view of a marketer my personalised and hand crafted emails are now stuffed into a tab with all the competing messages. Hidden from sight and as we know, out of sight can mean out of mind. Users have to decide to open the promotions tab and want to click on my mail. The need to stand out form the crowd with the subject message becomes even more important.

The update is optional, but I would suspect a large portion of the 425 million active accounts (june 2012) will switch. And when they do so I expect it will directly impact on take up of DM promotions.

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