Google’s recent announcement that it would launch a major Gmail redesign and roll out new features—like a task-management sidebar and Snooze buttons—on its email platform was met with a collective ‘meh’ from users, many of whom thought the update was long overdue. But Gmail’s new features could bring big changes for email marketers.
The addition of high-priority mobile notifications, Google product integrations, and one-tap unsubscribe prompts could all impact the way email marketers reach out and connect with subscribers, according to Kyle Henderick, director of client services at Yes Lifecycle Marketing.
With Gmail users now exceeding a reported 1.4 billion, accounting for 30% of all email marketing subscribers, brands can’t afford to ignore these changes and the way they may impact their digital marketing strategies.
“Gmail’s investment in the user experience is what makes them the market leader—and still growing—of internet service providers. As the market leader, Gmail is able to shape the space, and marketers are adapting their processes and strategies to comply,” Henderick says. “These changes also put a little bit more pressure on marketers to keep their subscribers engaged.”
Henderick says the new updates to Gmail reaffirm the company’s investment in the user experience, which will improve its market share over time. Email marketers should monitor Gmail closely, particularly during the first few months after these changes are rolled out, to see for themselves what impact the redesign will have.
Although the addition of features like one-tap unsubscribe prompts and high-priority notifications might cause concern for some email marketers, Henderick says the changes aren’t all bad news. Marketers might even be able to find ways to capitalize on certain additions, like a new Nudge feature that reminds users about emails to which they haven’t responded.
Henderick says his hope is that the new unsubscribe feature will motivate marketers to keep pushing the limits of content and personalization.
“Much like the Apple iOS 10 unsubscribe button in 2016, the update will actually help weed out unengaged subscribers and non-purchasers lingering within your email database, quantify the ‘passive opt out’ as unsubscribes become more measurable, and can help your deliverability at Gmail,” he says.
In light of these new updates, Henderick recommends that marketers start doing more to motivate opens and click-throughs. That might mean learning more about individual subscribers and audience segments, or offering more relevant, timely content that meets subscribers’ unique needs.
Marketers should also pay close attention to Gmail deliverability best practices and make sure to adhere to Gmail’s bulk sender guidelines. This means taking care to email only the most engaged audience segments and to improve data hygiene.
“While it’s always been the goal, Gmail continues to nudge us in that direction, making it easier and easier for the subscriber to cease communication,” he says.
Savvy marketers are following Google’s lead with these updates. Henderick believes optimizing the user experience will become more top of mind for brands that want to cut through the noise, keep their subscribers engaged and subscribed, and have their emails make an impact.
“Email is a cornerstone of the customer experience, as it connects customers to so many different channels and platforms,” Henderick says. “It sits at the center of every digital relationship, and Google’s continued investments in the user experience helps reaffirm that.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.