Saturday, March 29, 2014

what's up with all the gmail changes?

by kirk r gray

google has been busy introducing a whole bunch of inbox enhancements over the past couple of months. when i first got wind of all the changes, i thought to myself - seriously google, why are you making my professional life that much more difficult? two glass!

i can hear you now, either spit-takes or saying to yourself, "how does the inbox enhancements work for google glass?". let me explain...

i've been a google glass explorer since december of last year, and while its cool technology that seems endless in design and use, google is suffer from what i am calling the "apple syndrome". in theri effort to get the product right for release they have locked it down so much that unless you're a developer, glass is pretty much useless.

but i can see where that is going to change long before the public launch of's why and why we as email marketers need to care - and to be first in line to grab a pair:

gmail inbox actions and schemas: launched last may and further refined in november, inbox actions schemas offer email marketers a way to put the call to action right in the mailbox - not the preview pane or the email itself but front and center, see the example. imagine you are running an event campaign, sending an email to register for the event, and instead of having to open the email your subscriber clicks a button beside the subject to rsvp for the event. that's what is possible using inbox actions. the drawback to this expedited registration method is we no longer have open and click rates for but your your attendance may actually go up. inbox actions also have other implementations too, not just event attendance.
the "new" promotions tab - unless you've been living under a mousepad this week, the internets are a buzz with the latest innovation from gmail, and unlike other innovations in the past year, this one actually has a great chance of benefiting our profession. gmail is working on a pinterest style promotions tab, think of google now cards meeting the inbox. messages, company information and a click are presented in a graphic "card". this is going to be great if it kicks off and stays around (a co-worker pointed out that it's only going to take one idiot to screw it up for the rest of us....).

the downfall that i've been thinking about with implementing this type of enhanced marketing is sure this is a great experience for my readers, but at what cost to the health of my marketing program. the red flags i see is this: we as marketers have to be whitelisted with google to utilize the schemas and the j-son coding that is required to get this too work (no news on how long the process takes, and as soon as i am approved to get the new promos tab, i'm going to start testing...) if i include this in my bulk message, will the other isp's ignore it and still let me in the inbox - thinking deliverability here. and the second is if a reader starts to use inbox actions as their primary way of dealing with me for cta's is google going to look at that and lower my engagement score, or will these convenience drivers increase engagement? these things are yet to be seen.

so those concerns aside and looking at the potential for marketers, i'll return to my point that all of this is happening quickly to increase the benefits of owning google glass.

i'll tell you, the email experience on glass sucks...big time. it makes a text version of your email look great! as a user i can only get things that are in my primary inbox, or things that are starred to show on glass, that's right all of those emails i get for sales and information and newsletters never make their way into the head's up display. but think about what google has done in the past year alone - tabbed inboxes and the caching of images. tabbed inboxes have the potential of becoming organization panels in the glass timeline and as others have pointed out a virtual shopping mall... cached images load faster and could be manipulated (who are we kidding could be, we see this coming with the new promos tab) by google to deliver the bulk of your message - just like in the pinterest style promo tab.

inbox action schemas suggest endless possibilities of becoming commands for the glass wearer. think about this, you'e included an inbox action to register for your event, the subscriber views it on glass... they get a notice of the email/invite and all they have to say is "okay glass, rsvp for this event". google sends all of the information needed for the event right to the registration page and the wearer then taps on submit or register when they see the landing pge - and they have done all of this while waiting for the walk/don't walk light at the corner of 8th and 42nd on their way to a broadway show.

next, glass is good at displaying graphics...your sale communication with a "card" attached shows up in the reader's timeline showing a "two day 50% off sale". all i have to do is say something like "okay glass go shopping" and boom, i go right to the sale, check out using glass, and confirm shipping  all handled by google, because the reader is logged into their google account, has a google wallet account (the only way to pay for glass) and let's face it google has all my information and no one knows more about you - including your mother - than google.

so what i'm saying is to embrace the enhancements and don't look at the potential negatives of is actually a great tactic by google to drive demand for a beta product and will make our campaigns that much more successful with a sub-section of mobile users.


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