With all of the buzz around Google's new Inbox, many marketers are running scared and intimidated by what this may mean for their 2015 email marketing strategies, viewing it as yet another obstacle to overcome. And Inbox is not the only one; other apps are already on the market, like Mailbox, aiming to disrupt the way users interact with their emails and inboxes as a whole. However, this new generation of email apps actually presents a novel opportunity for email marketers to create a competitive advantage and increase interaction with their target audiences. It pays to adapt to technology advancements -- the hidden opportunities that apps like Inbox present for email marketers will bust the fears and myths around being locked in the "Promo" tab.
By leveraging its new infrastructure, marketers can embrace Inbox and use it to their benefit in order to rise above the speculative worries while the rest flounder. Here are five tips for how to take advantage of Inbox's huge opportunity:
Hit the Highlights with Transactional Email
Tap into transactional emails, which notoriously show the largest rate of interaction with users to achieve an early advantage with Inbox. Transactional emails contain valuable information like tracking numbers, order confirmations, etc. and are guaranteed to make it into the golden "Highlights" tab. Incorporating marketing messages within these emails is a sure fire way to drive engagement -- enabling you to ensure your brand and content is being seen where it matters. To illustrate how important it is to leverage these kinds of emails, a report by Experian revealed that transactional emails were opened nearly 100 percent of the time by recipients and resulted in higher engagement than other promotional emails. This still holds true today as shown by a report by Silverpop, which found that transactional messages were opened more frequently and scored much higher median click-through rates (CTR) and click-to-open rates (CTOR) when compared to the median CTRs and CTORs for all other messages.
Get Your Google Game In Order
Inbox has a unique feature that pulls information from a sender's Google Plus profile and will actually include the profile picture or logo next to the subject line of your email. Make sure your Google Plus profile is up to par and your company's logo is uploaded properly. While it may not be a top priority now, it should be -- your logo could be the deciding factor for whether or not your emails are read or snoozed. This can be especially important in maintaining your current user relationships. As users transition to a new email platform, it is imperative that you do not get lost amongst competitors as new Inbox categories are assessed and built out.
To Open or Not To Open... It Doesn't Matter
Because Inbox provides small snippets of your email as opposed to the actual full message upfront, your open rates will likely decrease -- but don't fret. If you're taking the proper steps to provide the right imagery, headers and calls to action, you'll be sure to achieve increased click-through rates, despite an initial drop in opens. As early adopters continue to test the new app, take advantage and run your own tests for optimized email content. You can do this through basic A/B split testing. Gain insights by running experiments that grant you a feel for how your audience will respond to your subject lines, content, frequency and other campaign elements. It can be one of the best ways to assure that your campaign is streamlined and Inbox ready.
Optimize for a Mobile Platform
Mobile is the ever-growing platform that is taking marketing and commerce by storm. Inbox and other similar apps are a testament to an era where nearly all consumers have a smartphone and reflect new consumer expectations. In turn, it is up to marketers to take up this new call to action to ensure that their testing, strategy and content are not lost in translation from desktop to mobile.
Inbox's mobile-first platform demonstrates the need for marketers to create email marketing that uses imagery and click-through size and buttons that cater to mobile users' needs. If you do not take this step, your content may not make it to your users' favorite bundles or, even worse, you may send emails that cannot be successfully opened and read on mobile devices. Remember, no one wants emails that are hard to digest -- with Inbox, users will easily recognize emails that are not meant for mobile consumption.
I'm a Promotion, Say It Loud and Say It Proud
Many marketers are likely to worry that their emails will now get sorted into the 'Promotional' tab to be lost forever, but don't confuse 'Spam' with 'Promotional.' The promotion tab is not always a bad thing, and the label does not equate to "never being read." Understand that users are aware that they can get marketing email every day, weekly, monthly, etc. The promotion tab was created to funnel all marketing material so that users can organize their product news and offers in one place. Actually, the only mistake marketers can make in regards to the promotion tab is to try to subvert it in order to make it onto another tab. For example, if users see something about new jeans in their list for 'Travel,' they'll surely be annoyed and this will grant you a one-way ticket to the spam tab - the last place you wanted to be. Embrace the promotion tab and deliver the daily deals users are expecting, not the spam they aim to avoid.
Google Inbox is the perfect example of technology that will change the way that marketers strategize. Contrary to popular belief, Inbox won't be a detriment to campaigns with its partitioned email, but rather a benefit. With 2015 just around the corner, marketers should be ready to adapt to new technologies like Inbox and not falter in their resolutions. Plan early, leverage data, and keep attuned to industry changes to guarantee the success of marketing campaigns for this upcoming year.
Follow Seamas Egan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SeamasEgan