Nowadays, everyone talks about trying to reach his or her congregants, donors, and students on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Still, we all know that when it comes to communicating with shul members or trusted donors, it’s email marketing that remains a potent key to spreading the news about your latest class, event, or fundraiser.
However, the email marketing playing field has drastically changed with the recent roll out of Gmail’s newly formatted, tabbed inbox (if you do not use Gmail, you can see what the tabs look like in the picture that appears below).
For all those unfamiliar with this new change, Gmail’s new inbox layout will now automatically separate incoming emails into five categories: Primary, Social, Promotional, Updates, and Forums. Instead of a single inbox with all incoming mail, the new inbox is separated into these five tabs (or fewer, if you choose).
How does this affect you?
Many of the emails that organizations, retailers, and nonprofits send are now no longer going to appear in the inbox of millions of Gmail accounts around the world!
Instead, the email will show up in the Promotional, or Updates tabs. As Consumerist put it, “the default setting sticks marketing emails into a “promotions” folder that you can ignore entirely if you want to. Seems like a great idea…unless you’re the person sending out those emails…”
And so, you have every right to ask questions such as: Will our messages ever see the light of day? Will people of a certain age or demographic bother to look anywhere other than the Primary category? How will users interact with the new inbox and how should we as a nonprofit organization react? What does this mean for our email updates?
At this point, the long-term prognosis of how this will effect people seeing your emails is unclear. MailChimp posted to its blog that the news doesn’t seem so good. They have seen a decrease in open rates across their service since the new inbox’s rollout. As MailChimp notes, any email with markers such as headers, footers, and “unsubscribe” buttons will be filtered into the Updates or Promotions tabs.
That said, Consumerist reports that, “over at Ad Age, they checked in with marketers to see how things are going. Early results are surprising. Response rates have actually gone up or stayed the same for most companies. Mega-marketer Epsilon notes that slightly fewer Gmail users are opening emails in the first place, but the same number of people are actually clicking through and buying stuff.”
While it appears that it’s too earlier to tell the long-term prognosis of how Gmail’s new tabbed layout will effect people opening your emails and responding to them, we have culled three important tips that will help you try and avoid this issue entirely.
It’s simple. Ask people: We recommend that you follow in the footsteps of famed author and marketing consultant, Chris Brogan. In his weekly email, Brogan recently asked his subscribers to, “shake [his] newsletter free from the clutches of the [Gmail’s new] Promotions tab.” Gmail, does allow users to set up filters that will control where an email lands. In Brogan’s case, he was asking people to make sure that his email wouldn’t be “dumped” by Gmail into the Promotions tab (which is where Gmail will place an email sent by Constant Contact, MailChimp, MadMimi, etc.) but to the more preferable, Primary tab. You can even send your email subscribers simple instructions that will show them how they can automatically filter all of your emails into a special folder.
Begin to rely upon or strengthen your other channels of communication: As noted above, it’s unclear how much Gmail’s new tabbed inbox does interfere with your email marketing. However, this new reality should make it more important for you than ever before to consider strengthening your other means of communication to get your messages out to your students, congregants, and donors. We recommend that you brainstorm and strategize with your team to determine if you should now be using various channels of social media. Social media will allow you and your organization to offer curated content on users’ feeds, which today serve as a new inbox of sorts.
Another method to consider, is to follow in the footstep of schools and outreach organizations that send daily text messages reminding people about the latest class or event (see our earlier post here that discussed how you can send free text messages to groups).
Streamline your email messages: Inasmuch as you can follow Brogan’s advice, there will be many who won’t bother to follow through with your request. However, if you streamline your email messages to only contain relevant information (meaning don’t make mention of a Pesach shiur when it’s months away), and don’t send more than one weekly email, you increase the chance that people will view your emails as relevant to their daily lives, and by extension, will decide to let you into their Primary inbox.
We hope this advice will be beneficial for you and your organization. We look forward to hearing any tips that you come up with, so that we can share them with the rest of the NLE Resources community!
If you are looking for additional tips as far as what you can say to your Gmail subscribers and even a template that makes doing so easy…look no further and head on over to the Constant Contact blog here that is full of additional tips and even provides a great template as well.
If you are someone who doesn’t like the new tab layout at all, below is a video that shows you how to easily disable this feature.