What did Gmail do to their layout?
In case you haven’t seen yet, Gmail unveiled their new layout starting in late May 2013, which prompted me to look into the impact of the new layout for Gmail users, email marketers, and see the perspective of other tech gurus weighing in on the issue.
As someone who helps clients with e-mail marketing campaigns, you might expect me to have an averse reaction to seeing all our hard earned work in keeping people up to date with something they have expressed interest in going to their “promotions” inbox. While admittedly that was my initial reaction, I’m seeing that the new layout could not only be for Gmail users, but email marketers who are doing the right things. Which brings me to…
New Gmail Layout Analysis – The Good:
Let’s start with the easy one.
The new layout is good for users.
If you look at the Google’s company philosophy, their #1 point is “Focus on the user and all else will follow”. I’d be willing to bet they did a little user testing to make sure that the changes were beneficial to the users before rolling out this new feature. Personally, I’ve enjoyed being able to see emails from clients in my primary inbox, see what’s going on on LinkedIn groups in my social tab, and read my daily articles from my favorite newsletter subscriptions in the promotions tab.
The new layout is good for email marketers who are providing value
This is a key one for me, and something to think about if you’re someone who sends out e-mail newsletters to subscribers. A user in a related thread on Warrior Forum put it rather bluntly, but his points really resonated with me:
People will eventually find that you can drag your favorite “promotions” into your primary inbox where they will stay from then on (seriously it’s that easy!). I’ve already done it for one of my favorite subscriptions, Chris Lema’s blog. Why? Because he sends articles every day that provide value and enhance my knowledge and skill-set. I’ll probably do the same for Copyblogger and some of my favorite news sources, while the ones that lack value are going to probably wallow in my “promotions” tab without being on my mind much.
So to conclude this section, email marketers who are providing value just got a huge leg up on those that don’t. I wouldn’t expect to see the results immediately, but once people get used to the changes, my guess is that we’ll see increased engagement for high-value providors and less for the rest.
New Gmail Layout Analysis – The Bad and the Ugly
Ok maybe I wasn’t completely fair in the last section…there’s probably some good e-mails that I’ll be missing in the promotions tab and probably some email marketers providing value that are losing out on some engagement. Lucy Beer from webtrainingwheels.com showed me a pretty legit analysis from MailChimp that overall open rates went down slightly (.5%-1%) since the changes took effect. Check back with them for more data as it becomes available.
Social Triggers makes some good points about how people that voluntarily signed up for your newsletter now have another barrier to reading what you send them and puts you in the category of spammers trying to sell you things you don’t want or need. Thanks Luis Camargo for sending this over!
Here’s another nice article by Kikolani on what the new Gmail layout means for marketers, bloggers, freelancers, and others and how to work around some of the issues.
New Gmail Layout Analysis – Conclusion
There’s no real clear answer on whether the new changes are good or bad but I give it my tentative seal of approval. If you’re a user, enjoy the changes and drag things you like into your primary inbox and if you are an email marketer, keep putting the focus on value and maybe even let your subscribers know that if they are fans of your newsletter they can drag your emails over to the primary inbox.
What do you think of the new Gmail layout changes? Agree with my analysis? Sound off on the comments!