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Google’s new email app, Inbox: Doomsday for email marketers?

In the days when consumer’s Inbox is overflowing, Google has launched a snazzy new app to make email clutter-free and less time consuming. The new Google email app, ubiquitously named Inbox, is more than just an extension of the Google Priority Inbox that is currently there sorts out emails into three tabs – Primary, Social and Promotions. But does this smart way of sorting emails spell out new issues for email marketers?

Two of the main features of the app include: Bundles and Highlights. Bundles groups together similar emails, much like the Priority Inbox, and keeps filing them under different categories that users can define. It will allow users to quickly review the emails, such as their purchase receipts or bank statements, and then swipe them out of the way, reducing the time needed to find a message.

But therein lies an issue for the marketer, as Bundles will mean that people need not read the marketing emails altogether. This would shrink the email open rates for marketers, as emails sifted by Google as promotional will be filed under a separate tab that need not be opened by the targeted user.

There are two types of promotional emails that users get – one that they sign up for and one that they do not. With Google’s new Inbox acting as a personal assistant for email, it will filter out all the marketing emails. This would mean that the user may have signed up for emails from, for example, Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank but they will go under the Promotions Tab, just like the emails from HSBC which the user may not have signed up for. This would make it difficult for marketers to catch the attention of the user as the user may not be able to differentiate between subscribed emails and non-subscribed emails. This brings up new challenges for the marketers of not getting any attention or the email not being opened.

Highlights is a new way of previews of emails offered earlier. This new feature will not just highlight the key information in an email, such as flight itineraries, event information, photos and documents but also give additional information based on the email content. It would go beyond a preview and also show information which is not there in the email. For example, for a flight booking that a user makes, it will show real time information on the flights or if the user has ordered a package, it will give the latest tracking location of the package. Highlights does the work for the user in this case.

This also means that people will swipe away marketing emails more quickly, if it does not interest them or contains content that does not catch their eye. But by using the Highlights feature, marketers can also make their email stand out in a crowded inbox, by using innovative content and adding visual appeal to it. The task ahead for marketers is to employ each and every component of the email – the subject line and the body text in such a manner that it appeals to the user and makes them click on it.

As Gmail is one of the most popular email service used, email marketers may need to rethink their strategies, once the Inbox app is rolled out. There may be no need to panic for now, as the feature has been launched on an invite-only basis and will not be open for all users immediately. However, Inbox brings both new challenges and opportunities for email marketers.

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.
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