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Inbox by Gmail can be an email marketing nightmare: how to make it work for you

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Introduced two weeks ago, Inbox by Gmail is a whole new way to see and use the (potentially) hundreds of emails that you receive over the course of a single day. That convenience factor comes through something that Inbox calls “bundling” and it is both a blessing and a curse, depending on which side of the marketing campaign you sit on. 

When an email comes into your Inbox, Google quickly crawls the content, like it had and has done with your Gmail account since its inception, and groups it into one of  seven categories: Social, Finance, Updates, Forums, Promos, Purchases, and Travel. Odds are that emails sent out from your company will fall into the Forums or Promos categories, depending on the content and what the Inbox user has the bundle’s preferences set to. Some bundles have notifications on mobile devices turned off by default, and that means that they will simply pile up in your Inbox until you check your email.

What happens when the user has way too many emails to read through or simply doesn’t care about anything in that bundle? Well, Google has made it very easy to archive (or get rid of) a lot of emails all at once with either a swipe of the bundle to the right or by pushing a small check mark button to do the same thing.

In the past, email marketers have relied on compelling copy, catchy subject lines, and preheader text to grab the reader’s attention, but Inbox makes all of those impossible at first glance. When emails are bundled and the reader is in their overall Inbox view, the only information that shows up is the name of the sender, and that’s it. It is only after they go into the bundle itself that the first line of preheader text or copy is available to view. That means that if the user doesn’t see your company’s name or isn’t interested enough in seeing what you have to say, they’ll simply hit the “done” button and never worry about it again. In addition to that, like Gmail, Inbox will also not play nicely with responsive designs due to the fact that it strips out any style code in the head tag, getting rid of that functionality altogether.

inbox gmail bundles Yes, those are some pretty big issues to deal with if you are an email marketer but the important thing here is that you can in fact deal with them however, they are not one-click fixes. As a staffing company, you absolutely want to make your clients and candidates care about the content that you are providing and make them care to the point where they’re seeking you out. This is done not only through consistent and engaging emails but by making sure that you are able to stay top-of-mind with your audience through other channels like social or direct mail.

As for the design aspect, well, that’s one that I have mentioned here before. You need to make sure that your email works everywhere, and that means across the clients that matter to your readers. While the majority of emails read today are mobile, Microsoft Outlook still has a huge market share and this is especially true in the business world. Different clients break different bits of code so it is more important than ever to test your emails before sending. Simple but engaging designs work best in a single-column layout because they are more flexible and easier to use on smaller screens. Finally, make sure that your users know who you are with a profile picture. Like Gmail, Inbox will pull in profile photos from verified Google+ accounts that the sender operates. Those without accounts will have a colorful block with the first letter of their name used instead.

At the moment, Inbox is an invite-only piece of software that can be used on iOS devices, Android devices, within Google Chrome, and that’s about it. Inbox is closed to business accounts at the moment and users must have a gmail.com address to sign up. While that sounds like it is restricting the potential userbase (and it is), Inbox is still immensely popular despite its very short life thus far. Invites are relatively hard to come by and those already on the platform only have three to give out. On Wednesday, the November 5, Inbox did what they called a “happy hour” and publicly announced that they would give anyone that emailed them between 3 and 4 p.m. PST on that day an invite. The influx of messages that they received caused issues with their servers and forced some people’s need-an-invite emails to be undeliverable or to bounce back. There are a lot of people already using Inbox and that number is growing every day.

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