Gmail’s Priority Inbox: A New Challenge For Email Marketing

Over the past week, there has been a big debate about the introduction of Google’s Gmail Priority Inbox, a new (optional) feature that allows Gmail users to sort and organize emails based on their importance.

It’s not easy to predict how Gmail’s users will react to this new tool. But, what is clear is that Priority Inbox is already drawing a lot of interest from the email marketing community. So far, reactions have been mixed, but taken together they seems to be slightly positive.
Let’s do a quick round up!

SendLabs‘s Inbound Marketing Director Josh Nason wrote that “Gmail’s Priority Inbox isn’t a threat, but an opportunity”.
“Gmail’s new setup will take some time to get used to, but I think it’s a major benefit. For those of us designing and developing campaigns, it’s up to us to provide that instant “This is important!” feeling for the end users”.

SparkMinute blogger David Spark expressed his skepticism calling the Gmail Priority Inbox “the new spam folder”
“How soon will it take before this secondary folder is treated with the same respect as your spam folder? As more and more information comes in more stuff will be relegated to the secondary folder never to be looked at again. We already do this today. How many of you have an “I’ll look at it later” folder? And how often have you looked at that folder? Should be called an “I’ll look at it never” folder.”

A purely positive reaction was provided by Conversionation‘s J-P De Clerck: “it’s a very good news and for a good e-mail marketer it actually shouldn’t be a concern”.
“An e-mail marketer MUST concentrate on the relevance of his/her emails for the recipient. Hopefully Google’s Gmail Priority inbox will be an extra ‘push’.”

MarketingProfessor‘s Travis Campbell put out some interesting analysis. He pointed out that “marketers should strive to stay above the “Priority Inbox Fold”.”It remains to be seen how quickly Gmail users will adopt the Priority Inbox.  I’m willing to bet that those who continue to use traditional mass and blast approaches to email marketing will need to make adjustments to survive in gmail inboxes.  However, it’s not just Gmail that has taken these measures, services like Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail that have similar ranking and filtering options in their programs. blogger Stephanie Miller focused on the “engagement” factor and on the real reason mailbox providers are making these changes: “to reduce false positives (messages blocked or sent to junk when they should have been in the inbox)”.
She also suggested to: “test some new approaches and focus on subject lines, too” and “be sure that your brand impact is high so you can claim whatever loyalty you have built over time”.

We totally agree with the folks at Email Marketing Voodoo. Email marketers need to focus on relevance and value. Now, more than ever.
“Marketers need to look at their subscriber’s behaviors and reactions to their emails. If this is done, marketers will have a better understanding in predicting how to segment their lists for future sends and hopefully earn the right to the Priority box”.

View how the new feature works in the video below:

From The Official Gmail Blog: 5 tips for using Priority Inbox