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Gmail Priority Inbox – What Does This Mean For Marketers?

Posted on: February 27, 2011

Google’s ‘Priority Inbox’ feature has just been given the all high and mighty approval for mass consumption but what exactly is it, how does it work and what potential impacts does it endeavour to have?

Priority Inbox is a new way of taking control of your Gmail account. It attempts to automatically identify your important incoming messages and separates them out from everything else. Google servers look at several types of information to identify the ‘important stuff’, including who you email and chat with most, how often you email these people and which keywords appear most frequently in the emails that you read.

No longer can an inbox be split into either read or unread. Even with dozens of Gmail filters, important messages often get lost in the mix leading to lost opportunities, missed meetings or just wasted time sifting through a cluttered inbox. According to the Official Gmail blog, Google found that users spent 16% less time reading insignificant e-mail, potentially saving hundreds of hours a month. According to Google, once someone switches to Priority Inbox, he or she never needs or wants to go back.

This new feature presents whole new challenges for email marketers as they seek to ensure that their emails get the attention of Gmail users, which according to Google, there are about 170 million monthly users of the service. The new service highlights the necessity for brands to engage with their customers by conversing and interacting with them rather than just mass marketing at them. So what should Marketers consider?

Firstly getting email delivered to the inbox is still the main aim because after all, users can create filters or mark messages as junk at any given time. We should maybe think of the feature as a bar raiser, as opposed to a game changer because users are now even more empowered to disregard email marketing shots.

Secondly, marketers must stand out in the inbox and provide relevancy and value for their Gmail users. Further focus will need to be applied in optimising messages to drive subscribers to read, reply and engage. E-mail needs to work harder to become as interactive and enticing to subscribers as other means of branding (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc.); one that is customised according to their interests, preferences and behaviours and not just that of the brand.

The Priority Inbox highlights impetus to implementing a social media marketing plan to any brand still to be convinced of its effectiveness and harnessing powers. With Gmail, once the customer disengages with your content you’re essentially out of the picture but social media offers you an almost indefinite lifeline. It will be interesting to note the impacts the Priority Inbox has over the next couple of months.

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