When Gmail recently rolled out a new layout for its inbox, some were at once outraged and called it a travesty, while some, with raised eyebrows, merely speculated on how this move will be received by the general emailing public.
The rest, well, immediately thought that it’s the greatest idea since sliced bread.
What basically happened (in case you’re living in a cave) was that they put up additional tabs for email segregation, aptly labeled “Social” and “Promotions”, with a preference to add two more, namely “Updates” and “Forums”. The purpose of the change, in Google’s own words, was to “put you back in control so that you can see what’s new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read and when.”
In theory, their intention was noble. But in reality, well, you have to try it to decide.
As expected, the larger fraction of the email marketing community was suddenly rocked by anxiety, especially those from small to medium-sized businesses. While they are indecisive as to whether or not this will be in favor of their email campaigns, they couldn’t help but brace for likely impact in terms of open rates and replies. Marketing emails, once tagged and automatically moved to the “Promotions” tab, will no longer be part of the mix of general emails, or in this case, the “Primary” inbox. That premise alone could be interpreted as a threat to email marketing.
On the other hand, some people do see a silver lining amidst this change and even believe that it would actually boost their email marketing stats. According to an article written for Time Magazine, this new tabbed inbox would actually provide people a “destination” where they could go and check marketing emails conveniently when they want to – which, going back to Google’s vision, seems to be right on track.
There are even those who look at the situation in a business perspective and see it as a strategic move by Google to indirectly “kill” email marketing so as to further increase their search marketing revenue. Although it’s a logical point, it would seem unlikely for Google to risk losing their users just for the sake of increasing search engine traffic, a field where they have been undisputed for the past decade.
The question is whether or not email marketers should also follow suit and make corresponding changes to their strategies, but according to experts, it’s too early to tell. The obvious goal would be to land on the “Primary” tab, but even that cannot guarantee a high chance of positive response, let alone a conversion.
For now, the business industry is just waiting for credible statistics and studies to help them ultimately decide whether they should start rebuilding their email marketing schemes or stick with what they’re doing right now. Changes are usually coupled with hostile reactions, but in the end, only time will tell if it was a change worth doing.