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Inbox by Google and the Future of Email Marketing

Our experts came across these previously published articles we thought you would find useful.

These are re-posts from the original sources. Author:

With the announcement of Inbox by Google, professionals in the world of email marketing may be starting to wonder how this new app will affect their email campaigns, especially as more and more people are using mobile technologies to check email.

With Inbox by Google still being a new technology, the nuances of how it works are still largely a mystery. However, by understanding how the app works, one can begin adjusting his strategy to achieve optimal open-rates, and not just be “bundled” away (more on this later).

What We Know about Inbox by Google

Inbox is very promising for its users with its ability to help them focus on the important stuff in their life and not be overly distracted by things like Facebook notifications. Google has set out to make the email inbox of a user more efficient by intelligent grouping, “auto-searching” helpful information (like the latest flight information), and prioritization tools like their “snooze” feature.

However, there are two features that could cause some concern for email marketers.

The “Bundles” Feature of Inbox by Google

In Google’s recent blog post, they’ve said the following:

Bundles: stay organized automatically: Inbox expands upon the categories we introduced in Gmail last year, making it easy to deal with similar types of mail all at once. For example, all your purchase receipts or bank statements are neatly grouped together so that you can quickly review and then swipe them out of the way. You can even teach Inbox to adapt to the way you work by choosing which emails you’d like to see grouped together.” – Google Blog

What does this mean? It means that Google will look for similar items and group them together automatically. As it mentions, bank statements will all be seen in one group, airline tickets in another group, and your common contacts in another group. One of the good things that we’ll discuss later on is that the user can control and move a contact from one bundle to another.

The “Highlights” Feature of Inbox by Google

Another new feature is what Google calls “Highlights”. Again, we’ll quote from their blog post:

Highlights: the important info at a glance: Inbox highlights the key information from important messages, such as flight itineraries, event information, and photos and documents emailed to you by friends and family. Inbox will even display useful information from the web that wasn’t in the original email, such as the real-time status of your flights and package deliveries. Highlights and Bundles work together to give you just the information you need at a glance.” – Google Blog

This means that Google will decide if the user’s preview is of an image included in an email or only a line of plain text. This also means that Google will begin analyzing emails in even more depth to differentiate between content and filler material.

Essentially asking the questions: “Will this email be important to the user in such a way that prominence should be given to it on a visual level? Or is this likely to be overlooked by the user and therefore should be bundled away with other similar, relatively unnecessary material?”

The user is not on the front line when it comes to prioritization anymore; the new filter for all things email is now Inbox by Google.

The Unknowns for Email Marketers

The unknowns for email marketers are still ironically a mystery, at least on specifics. We know that email marketing will be affected. How so? Because Google itself is doing preemptive analytics of all incoming emails. Now, marketers must learn not only how to provide a catchy subject line and content for a human’s eye, but also do so in a way not to be bundled away with advertisements or other promotions. To quote from Business Insider:

“When Google introduced Tabs for ‘social’, ‘promotions’, and ‘updates’ last year to Gmail, many email marketers proclaimed it the death of email newsletters as we know it, as messages from brands were funneled into the baskets users check far less frequently. [And later on in the article…] Advertisers consider Gmail an important advertising medium. But its move towards email that you don’t even need to open is troublesome (for them) — not least when they can’t keep talking about “open rates” when trying to determine the success of their campaigns.” – Business Insider

Therefore, the fears of many in the email marketing world is that the effort and brainstorming that we put in to writing a solid, helpful, high open-rate type of email will not be put away into a bundle of advertisements, unlikely to be read by our readership.

Until Inbox by Google is fully released to the general public, we will not know its total impact. But a smart email marketer adapts to new obstacles. Below are some good steps you should take to engage your Inbox customers.

How to Optimize Your Email Marketing Strategy for Inbox by Google

Here are 5 tips that you should utilize now more than ever!

Tip #1: Split Tests

Increasing your open rates by monitoring which subject lines and email designs covert the best and have the best open-rates. Just like you create split tests to gain subscribers, many email service providers allow you to split test with their tools, such as MailChimp.

Tip #2: Personalize

In a time where Google will be scanning emails, any generic language will likely be bundled with other promotions and advertisements. The more personal language you use (especially a name!) the better. Will your email sound more like a newspaper advertisement or a warm and engaging email from a friend or colleague? Your choice.

Tip #3: Test out how many links is “too many links”

Most likely, as Inbox tries to filter out friends from companies, it will look for not only how many links and images are used, but also the placement of those links. A link or two after a colleague’s name is common practice in personal emails. 15 links to different pages of the same website sounds much more like an advertisement. How Inbox will handle those emails is still to be determined. If multiple links lowers your open rate, consider focusing on only a few links.

Tip #4: Ask users of Inbox by Google to switch you in their lists

One of the best ways to beat Google’s algorithm is to NOT try to beat it yourself. Rather, let your new subscriber create new rules for how Google should treat your email. Remember what we posted above about Bundles?

“You can even teach Inbox to adapt to the way you work by choosing which emails you’d like to see grouped together.” – Google Blog

With OptinMonster, you can create custom Success Messages or even redirect to a Success Page. Use these to your advantage! Perhaps you could have a success message with something like this:

“Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email from us shortly. Please check your email (and possibly your SPAM folder) in the next few minutes so you can start receiving great tips straight to your inbox today!

Are you a Inbox by Google user? Click Here for further instructions for how to optimize your viewing experience with Google’s new app.”

You then can link to a special page with instructions on how the user can find your email and move your email address away from the “Promotion Bundle” and always show up in their inbox.

By engaging your new subscribers before they even get to their first email, you increase your chances of not only gaining a new confirmed subscriber, but you let the subscriber do the hard work of overcoming Inbox’s automation rules.

Tip #5: Segmentation

Last, but not least, by using a combination of tools like OptinMonster’s Canvas Addon and MailChimp’s Code Generators, you can capture emails and allow it to segment your users based upon if they use Inbox. Then you can have separate email lists for those with Inbox by Google and those who use standard email tools.

The key is to label your question of Inbox in such a way as to convey it is to their benefit to inform you of their usage of Inbox. Perhaps something like:

[ ] Click Here if you want emails that have been optimized for Inbox by Google.


When it comes to email marketing, the key is not to remain the same indefinitely. We must continually adapt to the ever-changing environment and excel where others fail. Inbox by Google does not have to be the end for Email Marketing. In fact, it may just make it better.


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