Google Priority Inbox and the Email Marketer

Gmail introduced the Priority Inbox around September 1st 2010.  Google will now “sense” important emails from your friends and from social sites and mark them as priority.  By default, Priority Inbox has three sections: “Important and Unread,” “Starred” and “Everything Else.” The “intelligent inbox” is a trend. Hotmail allows you to sweep messages into a folder and repeat this action automatically in future.  Yahoo allows you to view messages from those people whose emails are in your contacts list.

The email marketing community is abuzz with what it means for the digital marketer.

Silverpop has been saying “engagement” is key but specifically if Gmail priority inbox will go the google Buzz way is too early to say.

Return Path says: “These changes by the world’s leading mailbox providers provide a new imperative for email marketers.  We can no longer “ride along” for attention by cozying up to personal messages.  We must re-earn our way into the inbox, or at least into a folder that subscribers check frequently.”

Mark Brownlow said this 6 months ago: “It seems inevitable that ‘intelligent’ inboxes will highlight ‘priority’ messages, based on the user’s previous interactions with that sender’s messages or whether the recipient has some formal connection with that sender.”

One of the best white papers I read recently was by InfusionSoft and I agree with them wholeheartedly when they say “Look, successful email marketing is NOT determined solely by subject lines. It cannot be achieved by just avoiding SPAM words. A  defined email length will not make or break your bottom line. And long-term success has never been determined by a certain day of the week. If you want to see real results from your email marketing efforts, then stop reading articles about the “7 Words You Should NEVER Use in an Email.” Focus on the concepts that will make a difference.”

I don’t think that the priority inbox or the intelligent inbox will make life much different for marketers.  What has changed is that marketers who weren’t able to focus on the fundamentals, can no longer get the same returns with a blast and forget approach.  You need to do more to be heard.

The fundamentals haven’t changed. If you want to be heard over the noise of brands, offers and changing channels you need to:

  • Build the relationship with your brand and your consumers
  • Get relevant content, segmentation and targeting with the right messages
  • Time your email correctly (welcome, post purchase, abandon cart).  Dont make me wait a month or two before I get the first email.
  • Manage your IP reputation and all that jazz, clean your email list
  • Elicit response with a feedback, enter a draw with a reply, contest etc. and build a dialog

So what do I think of the Priority Inbox? As a marketer I am not fazed. As a geeky girl I am happy to tweak things and fit things to my way of working. As an average consumer I am disappointed. I use “starred” emails in a different way altogether.  I have seen daily emails from a newspaper that I never read land consistently in by inbox while a couple I have marked not spam still land in the spam folder. I doubt if users are going to spend time “training” their priority inbox and in all will probability revert to regular inbox. I love Google and Gmail but this for most will be daunting:  http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/5-tips-for-using-priority-inbox.html. If the priority inbox works in the background and learns (like the excellent spam check Google has) it should be fine; But if a few of the emails go the “everything else” section when it should have been marked priority then I think users will hit the regular inbox view button simply because everyone knows what is and is not important to them.

It will be interesting to watch this scene as it unfolds. Read more about the changes to the various inboxes here:

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2 Comments on “Google Priority Inbox and the Email Marketer”

  1. Pragya Gupta says:

    I don’t know much about Priority Inbox.. But I didn’t found it useful.. May be much of Machine Learning Left With That..

    Anyways nice sneak peak.

  2. […] Gmail announced its priority email feature. So did Hotmail and Yahoo. What this means is the emails from your […]


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