With more than 425 million users, Google’s Gmail platform is the most widely adopted consumer webmail system in the world. In an effort to weed out junk mail and improve consumer experience, Google recently rolled out a new system of message auto-sorting within Gmail that has Internet Directors and BDC Managers rethinking their email contact strategy.

Gmail Tabs auto marketing

How the Tabs feature works

Gmail now automatically sorts email messages into up to five distinct categories – primary, social, promotions, updates, and offers – based on criteria such as the sender’s email address, message content and previous interaction with the sender. That means that a message from an old college buddy, last night’s Facebook notification and the latest Groupon offer are all placed into separate tabs.

Optimize email messages with mobile in mind

While it’s easy to think that these changes will bring on a new set of challenges, data shows that Gmail’s update will actually go unnoticed by the majority of shoppers. Approximately 44% of all Gmail messages are read on a mobile device without the Tabs feature, and another 33% are read via a desktop client (i.e.Outlook, Apple Mail), according to a recent analysis. So if you’re already sending timely, meaningful emails to your customers, the net impact to follow up and outreach will be limited. That said, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

  • Format for mobile – Because nearly half of all emails are read on a mobile device, make sure the messages you send are formatted to display cleanly on smartphones and tablets. Sending a stock HTML blast may look great on the surface, but if customers are left to pinch and drag on their smartphone devices, you’re likely to see low engagement.
  • Give a heads up – If a shopper starts a conversation with your store, whether by walking in, texting, chatting or calling the dealership and you’re asked to email to follow up, tell the customer that the message you’re sending may get sorted into one of the secondary Gmail tabs. Ask the shopper to add the dealership to their approved senders list and let them know that if they drag your first email into Gmail’s primary tab, future messages will be easier to find.
  • Understand Context – While early data shows that the overall percentage of emails opened has dipped slightly, active Gmail users are actually reading over 7% more emails due to the highly targeted, highly organized nature of the new inbox. Use that to your advantage by tailoring subject lines to attract customers with specials and incentives when appropriate. And, as with any email campaign, test multiple types of subject lines to see which drive the most engagement with your dealership.

How do you engage customers via text, chat and email? Share your best practices in the comments section below?


Gmail’s Tabbed Inbox: The Good News & The Bad News (via MarketingLand)

Text your way to better show rates

Meet the new inbox via Google