Gmail, with 175 million monthly users worldwide, is rolling out its new Priority Inbox service, and it is beginning to create certain levels of concern amongst email marketers. Many other email packages offer similar filtering options and some automatically and intelligently deal with spam, but Google has made the whole process more simple for all Gmail users.
Google, whose key skill has to be the acquisition and use of data to personalise a user’s experience, has already shown how a browser can become ‘intelligent’ when personalising the first page a user sees, with Chrome showing the top most visited sites on start up. Now, the priority inbox uses a smart algorithm to apply the same understanding of the psychology of user behaviour to help user’s spend less time in their inbox reading spam and irrelevant messages.
Potential time savings are already being touted at around 6% for the average user, which for anyone who spends around 13 hours a week reading emails, this can add up to the equivalent of a working week per year. However, what it also means is that users will read their priority mail first. For many email marketers, in particular those who have not developed relationships with the recipients of their marketing emails, applied active CRM to their email marketing, and those who do not encourage interactivity within that email (calls to action), this will push marketing mails into the second or third section of the inbox.
Whilst the time saving may free up the user to explore in depth the lower echelons of the inbox at leisure and be more willing to read the marketing mails, it may also give users the opportunity to identify more easily the mails which are filling up their inbox and which are never read and unsubscribe from all such marketing material.
For e-mail marketers, the time has come to seriously assess response rates and consider how to convert those who do respond, and how to engage more effectively with those who are within the 90-97% of recipients who currently do not read or respond. The use of best practice, plus multiple channels e.g social media marketing and mobile marketing, to pull in potential customers and encourage a response has to be a must now. Interesting times ahead!