Google recently introduced Gmail Priority Inbox. Essentially, it splits a user's inbox into three sections: important and unread, “starred” (all Gmail users can mark e-mails with “stars” to signify importance) and everything else. Gmail's servers prioritize based on what e-mails are opened and who is e-mailed most frequently.
This could present new challenges for e-mail marketers. On the other hand, with a few best practices, it can make e-mail marketing programs more valuable to their audiences.
The key to any e-mail campaign is relevancy. If you aren't providing appropriate information, the e-newsletter or e-postcard isn't going to be read no matter where it is in the Gmail Inbox. If you want to be a priority, make sure the text and the graphics are useful.
How do you know if the materials in your e-mail campaigns are being read? A good e-mail marketing service should include the ability to analyze your results with every campaign. Look for reporting tools that track e-mail performance and measure results. This includes open rates, click-through statistics, bounces and opt-outs. If you're seeing a drop in readership, you may need to re-evaluate your campaigns.
This is where you can turn any issues revealed in your reports into opportunities. For instance, give focus to your e-mail lists. Instead of one-to-many e-mail blasts, segment your contact list based on the recipients' preferences. This way you can send relevant information based on demographics or behavioral and transactional data you have collected. By sending the right message to the right person at the right time, there is an increased likelihood that your e-mail campaign will be opened and your hyperlinks will be clicked on.
Double check that your e-mail marketing template reflects your brand. Make sure you're recognized by choosing a look and feel that reflects your business and brand image. An e-mail marketing service should provide templates that are great for getting started and allow you to customize. Also look for the ability to edit, crop, rotate and resize images. Integrated editing capabilities cut out the need for additional graphics programs that can be expensive and hard to use.
Don't forget to ask your customers what they want to see in your campaigns and how often they want to hear from you. Incorporating their feedback into future e-mail marketing efforts increases the probability you'll be classified as “priority e-mail” with customers using Gmail or other inbox management tools offered by Microsoft Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL.
Mélanie Attia is the product marketing manager for Campaigner E-mail Marketing (www.campaigner.com), an e-mail marketing service from Protus IP Solutions.