Why Associations Don’t Need to Panic over Gmail’s New Inbox

Alex Mastrianni

For the past couple of months, email marketers everywhere have been panicking about the changes Gmail has made to its inbox design at the end of May. Gmail’s “New Inbox,” which introduces a tabular format, automatically sorts email into different tabs: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums.

That means exactly what you think it means; your emails may no longer be ending up at the top of recipients’ inboxes in the primary tab. In fact, most emails sent by an email service provider are said to be finding their way straight to the Promotions tab. Unless a reader moves your emails to the Primary tab themselves, your messages will continue to be dropped into the Promotions tab. Cue the panic attack, right?

Not just yet.

gmail chart

Association email marketers, breathe! We’ve got some good news to share.

We always say that you need to look at the numbers – a luxury that email marketing provides and other communications methods don’t – and see what kind of changes you need to make with your audience.

According to our 2013 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report, Part II, which examines email results from over 1,100 associations, only 4% of these associations’ members are using Gmail to open their emails. Just 4%!

That’s a relief. Maybe you have more readers using Gmail, or maybe you have less, but take a look for yourself and see what your subscribers are up to.

If you’re finding that you have a lot of Gmail readers, it may be too soon to tell what kind of impact the new inbox has had on your open rates, but now is the time to start monitoring. Dive down into that 4% and look at readership from the end of May through today. Is it declining, because your newsletter is now placed in the Promotions tab? Or maybe it’s increased, because readers are having fun playing with a shiny new toy, and they are looking for new messages in the tabs.

Keep your eye on their engagement levels (Informz has some great reports that can show you engagement on a specific email client) and if it continues to be a problem, the best way to get yourself to the Primary tab is to ask (just like Groupon did).

In the end, if your Gmail readers are truly engaged with your association and the content you provide, they’re probably still going to read your messages, no matter where they’re delivered. Relevancy always rules. Don’t forget about those readers, and they won’t forget about you.

About the Author
Alex Mastrianni

As the Marketing Manager at Informz, Alex drives the development and implementation of our content marketing plan and marketing campaigns. Outside of work, Alex is a pop culture junkie, ice cream fanatic, and semi-pro vacation planner.