Promotional email has long been an effective way of delivering opt-in commercial messages and many marketers have rediscovered this method after experimenting with advertising, social media campaigns, and other novel forms of online marketing.
However, recent changes at Google's Gmail has marketers very worried.
The free email service has begun filtering some emails into a separate "Promotions" folder, which shifts them from the prime position they had in the users' Inbox folder. Marketers are worried that conversion rates will be hurt by the change as Google rolls out the changes to its 425 million users. They could be right.
Drew Fitzgerald at the Wall Street Journal reports:
MailChimp last month found the percentage of emails that were opened by its 3 million customers fell by about 1 percentage point for Gmail, to between 12% and 13%. Analysis from HubSpot showed the percentage of Gmail users who opened clients' emails slid slightly over the summer.
Foremski's Take: This is very much in line with Google's latest strategies to isolate companies with marketing services promoting online businesses because it sees them as competition to its own services.
Why should companies pay other firms for promoting content and online businesses on Gmail when that's what Google offers through its AdWords service?
The Google changes in Gmail mirror recent changes in its webmaster rules on links and keywords in press releases. Again, because press releases are often issued to promote online businesses and that's what Google offers, too.
Its search algorithm provides a lot of online businesses with free traffic but that is done on the basis that those sites truly provide a valuable service. Google hates anything that tries to dupe its search algorithm into providing an online business with a higher rank by gaming its algorithm through SEO.
The same is true for Gmail. The appearance of the "Promotions" folder is part of this strategy to sideline competitors. Anything that requires an extra click to get to — reduces traffic significantly.
It's tough being an online marketer and it's going to become a lot tougher now that Google is stepping up its competitive strategies. After all, Gmail's audience belongs to Google and the free ride that marketers, and PR firms have had so far, will become increasingly difficult to exploit.