SaleCycle’s Andrei Coconasu looks at Google’s latest offering, Inbox, and how its effects the world of email remarketing.

For the past couple months SaleCycle’s Implementation Team has been testing our emails in Google’s new email client, Inbox. Design-wise, Inbox brings in Google’s new Material Design style, as it has to their other platforms. Animations are smooth, the text is clean and crisp and menu bars are very lively and aggressively coloured; overall it’s very pleasing on the eye!

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As the internet age moves more and more towards mobility, Google has started to think ahead with a mobile first mindset, and so, SaleCycle has to think ahead from an email remarketing point of view. Google designed Inbox to work best on smaller screens; they report that only 34% of their traffic comes from their web-based app. Clearly the predictions of mobile devices dominating other platforms are coming true.


The Tailored Inbox

Inbox sets itself up to be an email client tailored to the individual using it. Google scans your email for important and similar information and extracts it from the email. It then presents what it considers the most important part of the email first and groups similar emails as “Bundles” that are named by type (e.g., “Travel” or “Updates”).

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It also converts email information into physical reminders/updates, with airline confirmation emails made into a flight status updates or even processing an order confirmation email into a delivery status notification. Any users of Google Now will also find highlighted bundle messages appearing in their notifications timeline, which (for Android users) is pushed into their notification panel.

Popular email will get this benefit too, so users who frequently open reminder emails will find them included in the Google Now feed.

One thing (and arguably most important) is that the user has total control of is which information is presented to them. The user can choose which Bundles to display, when to display them and even which to ignore completely.

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In theory, Inbox works better for promotional and remarketing material, by bundling everything together under one simple to view category. But with a few clicks the user can switch the whole promotions bundle off, and so, every promotional email sent, skips the inbox and never notifies the user of its existence. This means that theoretically every email that we send to a customer could potentially never be opened.

Now, as scary as that sounds, it’s unlikely to happen. Gmail has offered various filters for years, unsubscribe links are an industry standard and similarly functioning Inbox tabs were introduced over a year ago, with MailChimp reporting less than a 1% drop in open rates.


Show Me The Goods

Another potentially dangerous option that Inbox gives the user is the ability to limit the frequency of notifications as the message arrives. That means the user could set their Inbox up to notify them only once a week about promotional material in their Inbox.

Google reports that 33% of bundles are promotional material coming from companies, with 60% of their users swiping away bundles twice a day.

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This is a different approach to standard Gmail (and every email client so far) in the way that Gmail always pushes unread emails to your inbox, and then categorises them to promotions, updates, etc. Of course, the user can choose what mailing address to ignore messages from but with the email bundling in Inbox, all the promotional emails skip the main inbox or are ignored. Basically, Google decides what promotional material is and what it’s not.


Conclusion

So far for all the clients that we’ve tested in Inbox, remarketing emails are classed as promotional and are bundled under Promotions. My promotions bundle quickly became a second inbox I could use to get a quick view of all my promo material, which was admittedly handy.

This looks to escalate the Subject Line war, putting every promo email side by side, fighting for your click, as opposed to the traditional mixed up view. Lucky that SaleCycle’s open rate sits at around 46%, nearly double the rate of other promotional emails.

Inbox is still in closed-beta testing, with Google not planning to replace Gmail just yet (if ever!), that means a lot of things can change. Google is set to change the way we interact with our email clients, and I for one am very happy.


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