Google recently mixed things up again by introducing its Gmail Inbox tabs for prioritizing mail.
Officially, they have done this to make email better for us but in reality it has set the cat amongst the pigeons because potentially it can harm open rates for the emails you send.
So this begs the question. How To Increase Open Rates With Gmail Inbox Tabs?
Before we get started lets look at what we’re talking about. Here’s a birds eye of Inbox tabs.
What are Gmail Inbox tabs?
The online chatter provides mixed views at best with the general consensus being that it is all rather confusing:
“At first glance, this looks great for email organization. On further inspection, these new tabs are confusing as hell” – Hackernews
If you’re a Gmail user and you want to take a look yourself here’s what to do – go to the Gear icon in your Inbox and select “Configure inbox.” Once you do that, you’ll be prompted to choose which tabs to enable and Gmail will start doing its magic, auto-sorting your inbox.
Through Gmail Inbox tabs, Google sorts your emails into up to five categories which appear organized in tabs across the top of your inbox: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. “Primary” is the bulk of what you’re actually interested in reading: messages from friends, coworkers, family, and other potentially important contacts.
How can Gmail Inbox tabs decrease your rates?
If you’re a marketer sending emails, you want your emails viewed and opened as much as possible so you want them delivered to the “Primary” tab and not the “Promotions” tab where they are hidden and less likely to be read.
This sorting process is driven by how Gmail sees emails coming into the inbox. Gmail first reads the *From* address of the inbound email and if it’s sent from a service such as Mailchimp it will be read it as follows:
*firstname.lastname@example.org via mailchimp.com* (where mailchimp.com is the third party mail server).
Now Gmail says, ah-ha, this email comes from a third party called “mailchimp.com” so I’m going to class it as a promotional email and send it off to the Promotions tab with the rest of the junk.
In reality, this email may be a very “non-junky” to its recipient and they may not really want it in the Promotions tab but all the same that’s where it goes. Yes, you can go and manually reclassify the email as “Primary” so in the future it will not be unceremoniously dumped in the promotional tab but in who’s going to do this?
Contrast this to how Gmail reads emails sent from an individual’s Gmail account or Google apps account:
*email@example.com” or “firstname.lastname@example.org via flashissue.com” (where flashissue.com is the Google apps domain)
Naturally, Gmail loves these emails and does not consider them to be third party promotional emails so it reassuringly dispatches them to the Primary tab where they have a much higher chance of being opened and read.
You can read more about how Google treats the senders name in Gmail here.
How To Increase Open Rates With Gmail Inbox Tabs?
Our difference comes in the way we send emails for you.
When you create a nice pretty email with Mailchimp and it’s sent out to your list of two thousand emails through their own mail servers, we’ve seen what happens. You’ll probably end up in the Promotions email tab and experience all those nasty effects on open rates.
Our difference starts with you.
Since our service is intended for the individual wanting to promote their own personal brand to a few hundred people in their address book and not a marketing manager looking to promote their company to a huge mailing list of thousands (the typical Mailchimp user) we can do things differently.
Our big difference is that we let you create a pretty email like other email services but unlike them we send out your emails through your private Gmail account and not a third party bulk mail server (like Mailchimp).
What this means is that your emails are going to get preferential treatment when they reach a Gmail Inbox because Gamil deems your email came from a personal and not a promotional source. The result? You get higher open rates as your emails land in the coveted Primary tab.
By way of clarification, I’m not saying that the bulk email services like Mailchimp are bad, not at all. It’s just that we have a different target user so we can do things differently and in the context of the Gmail Inbox tab discussion there’s a big pay off.
Here’s a well balanced commented from one of the Mailchimp guys I was chatting to through their blog:
Since Flashissue is optimized for the individual and not the company our service is sending emails to mailing lists of 50, 100, 200 which in turn means we can send through your private Gmail account and we avoid the promotional bulk sender issues.
As we continue to roll out this new service for personal email marketing we’ll keep you updated on the statistics and how they play out for the everyone using Gmail Inbox tabs.