Sep 9, 2010

What do I need to know about Google Priority Inbox?

Google recently introduced Gmail Priority Inbox. Essentially, it splits a user's inbox into three sections: important and unread, “starred” (all Gmail users can mark emails with “stars” to signify importance) and everything else. Gmail's servers prioritize based on what emails are opened and who is emailed most frequently.

This could present new challenges for email marketers. On the other hand, with a few best practices, it can make email marketing programs more valuable to their audiences.

The key to any email campaign is relevancy. If you aren't providing appropriate information, the e-newsletter or e-postcard isn't going to be read no matter where it is in the Gmail Inbox. If you want to be a priority, make sure the text and the graphics are useful.

How do you know if the materials in your email campaigns are being read? A good email marketing service should include the ability to analyze your results with every campaign. Look for reporting tools that track email performance and measure results. This includes open rates, click-through statistics, bounces and opt-outs. If you're seeing a drop in readership, you may need to re-evaluate your campaigns.

This is where you can turn any issues revealed in your reports into opportunities. For instance, give focus to your email lists. Instead of one-to-many email blasts, segment your contact list based on the recipients' preferences. This way you can send relevant information based on demographics or behavioral and transactional data you have collected. By sending the right message to the right person at the right time, there is an increased likelihood that your email campaign will be opened and your hyperlinks will be clicked on.

Double check that your email marketing template reflects your brand. Make sure you're recognized by choosing a look and feel that reflects your business and brand image. An email marketing service should provide templates that are great for getting started and allow you to customize. Also look for the ability to edit, crop, rotate and resize images. Integrated editing capabilities cut out the need for additional graphics programs that can be expensive and hard to use.

Don't forget to ask your customers what they want to see in your campaigns and how often they want to hear from you. Incorporating their feedback into future email marketing efforts increases the probability you'll be classified as “priority email” with customers using Gmail or other inbox management tools offered by Microsoft Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL.