Google launched their new email app called Inbox a few weeks ago. This isn’t the first time that Google has introduced something new to its email audience. It was only last year when Google integrated category tabs into their Gmail inbox. Remember? Email marketers freaked out thinking that their emails were going to rot in the Promotions tab off to the side of Gmail’s inbox. Google is playing with the hearts of email marketers once again with their new Inbox app. Google’s new Inbox does not seem to be as shocking of a change as last year’s Gmail tabs, but it is still making email marketers wonder how this new app will affect their work. Today, we are going to take a look at some of Inbox’s functions and also how the new email app will affect email marketers.
According to Google’s Blog, Inbox is not meant to be a replacement for Gmail. It is rather a take on what Gmail could be if Google re-invented it. Inbox was created for people who receive hundreds of emails every day. This app is Google’s attempt to make the inbox more organized without much user effort. Google’s other big focus is trying to make email more mobile-friendly. Rather than updating Gmail’s web and mobile email interfaces, Google created an entirely new app to make it more like a new email app rather than an email provider.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP of Android, said, “For many of us, dealing with email has become a daily chore that distracts from what we really need to do-rather than helping us get those things done.” Inbox’s goal is to help users keep track of things with its new tools, including Bundles, Highlights, and its to-do list features. Inbox treats all of its emails like tasks that need to be completed.
Inbox Bundles is pretty much like Gmail’s labels that were introduced last year. Inbox organizes emails into Bundles such as Social, Finance, and Promotions. Users can also add different Bundle labels as they please. Similar types of emails are bundled together automatically, such as receipts and flight itineraries. The purpose of Bundle is to sort your emails for you so you can find what you need faster.
Here’s a function that is new to Google: Highlights. Highlights is a simplified email preview that allows you to glean important information without taking the time to open it. This feature can show photos, scheduled times and dates (like in the image below), links, and more.
Users can mark emails they do not need to take action to as “done” and those emails are moved out of the main inbox and into the Done folder. This is similar to archiving emails in Gmail.
Inbox allows you to snooze an email so it disappears from our Inbox and comes back later. The idea of Snooze is that if you need to follow-up on an email, but not for a while, you can schedule it to pop-up in your Inbox at that later time.
It seems like the new Inbox app will be more impactful towards those who aren’t already organized with their inboxes. It probably will not affect people who already use labels in Gmail to manage their inbox very much. However, for people who do struggle to keep their inboxes organized, the Bundles and Done features will help clear out what they don’t need and help them focus on things that are important.
What does Inbox mean for email marketers?
Inbox may actually be a great motivator for email marketers. The Bundles and the Done features make it easy for people to remove emails that they are not interested in. This could decrease email marketers’ open rates if they are not sending out great email campaigns. Email marketers will have to up their game, especially in terms of relevancy and interesting content, if they want to capture readers’ attention.
The Highlights feature can be useful to both email marketers and customers, if your email campaigns have great content. Customers can be fully engaged with an email’s content without having to open the actual email. Most inboxes are text-focused and only show plain-text fields like the sender’s address and the subject line. Email marketers can use applications like the schema.org markup to add images, offers, actions and more to emails to Highlights. These visuals can help draw more attention to your email.
The Bundles feature is very similar to the category tabs that Gmail already has, but Bundles puts promotional emails right in your inbox, in front of the recipient. Chad White of Sales Force Marketing Cloud explains in this Google’s Inbox interview, Bundles are “really just Google’s way of adapting the tabbed Gmail environment to the mobile form factor.”
The current Gmail Promotions tab is all the way to the side of your inbox, and you have to click on the tab to see any of the promotional emails.
In Inbox, the promotional email bundle is located in your primary inbox, not in a separate tab. It is true that you still have to tap on the “Promos” Bundle to see those emails, but it definitely makes it more mobile-friendly, and it is much more visible in the new Inbox app. Hopefully this will make it a little easier for email marketers to reach customers.
On the flip-side, Bundles, just like Gmail’s tabs, makes it easy for recipients to ignore emails that are unimportant to them. As users have more control over their Inbox options, it is essential for email marketers to send more relevant email campaigns. In “What Google’s New Inbox App Means for Marketers,” Chad White writes that “Personalization, dynamic content, triggered emails, predictive intelligence, progressive – all of these are the tools necessary to thrive in the next generation of inboxes”.
However, before Inbox can really impact email marketers, Google needs to make it available for anyone who wants it, and more people will need to adopt the app. Inbox is currently only available through invite and to those that already have a @gmail.com email address. It is only accessible by Chrome browser, iOS, and Android. If you are interested in testing out Inbox, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an invitation.
Have you had a chance to play with Google’s new Inbox app? What do you think the effect will be on email marketing? We’d love for you to share your perspective in the comments below. Please contact us if you are looking to up your email marketing game!