Over the course of the past year, Google has made several changes designed to improve the relevancy of the inbox. Many recipients have reported issues with spam mail and content that just is not pertinent to their interests, all while the few important messages get blocked out and overshadowed by the irrelevant content.
Unfortunately for content publishers, the changes have the potential to negatively affect their campaigns. Earlier this year, for example, Google rolled out the tabbed Gmail inbox, which began routing many messages to a third category designed for “promotional content.” People could still readily access this content, but there is no denying it was a bit more hidden than the conventional inbox that displayed everything to users.
Enter Inbox by Gmail
More recently, Google announced Inbox by Gmail, a new interpretation of the email inbox. Currently in beta, it takes a social media-like approach to the inbox by creating a stream of content. One of the features of Inbox by Gmail is the Bundle feature, which will group similar messages and content with each other. For example, customers may get all of their bills automatically “bundled,” which allows users to quickly swipe away content types they do not want to see or open messages that pique their interests, ClickZ reported. Other common examples listed on Google’s Gmail website includes bundles for promotional messages, purchases and travel plans. People can also create their own bundles to maximize the usability of the inbox.
Although Google’s ultimate goal is to improve the relevancy of content, there is no denying some of these changes make it easy for pertinent email to get swept under the rug accidentally by automated filters. Additionally, Inbox by Google also displays fewer messages on screen at once, instead opting to show more content from each message, which may further hinder findability.
Some newsletters may be promotional in nature, but that does not mean they do not provide value to people. Nonetheless, publishers will need to rethink the way they approach their newsletters once again if they want to continue to get their content in front of consumers’ eyes.
“Bundle will make it harder to break through within the noise of Inbox by neatly categorizing messages by promotional nature,” Jesse Noyes, senior director of content marketing for Kapost, told ClickZ. “Many marketers will try to game this system, much in the way content farms tried to game Google search results, but this is an ultimately doomed strategy. Marketers need to adapt by creating content that offers a fresh look at a trend, ties into the intended audiences concerns and issues, and doesn’t overtly push product.”
Of course, it is worth noting that right now, Inbox by Gmail is only currently being beta tested. The feature set could change, or it could even be scrapped like so many other Google projects and products over the year. However, early reviews by tech publishers such as Extreme Tech have commended the redesign for the usability of the interface, so it may likely be here to stay.
At the end of the day, any publisher that sends email newsletters will need to stay on top of changes to some of the most popular email services, Gmail included. Whether or not it takes off is irrelevant, and publishers do not want to be scrambling to change their email content at the last minute. For now, they should realize the bundle feature is only in beta, but they should also be developing a game plan that will allow them to maximize the use of their content going forward.