As Gmail Turns 10, A Look Back on Growth and Changes
Last December, Google announced images would load automatically in Gmail and recipients would no longer have to click "display images below." Google now hosts all email images on its secure servers to minimize the risk of viruses and malware and conceal information about where and how users read messages.
Prior to this change, marketers were concerned about the new tabs feature, which automatically filters incoming messages into different categories. While this update was intended to improve security and privacy for subscribers, marketers have wondered how the tradeoff affects their email marketing efforts. Yesmail took a deep dive into a client's emails opened by Gmail users. It found that, as of the end of January 2014, Google's image caching had little to no impact on the ability to collect user agent information. This means details like device and browser/email client used by readers, as well as opens (even after the initial occurrence) are still relayed to the sender. Of course, it's still very early to assess long-term effects of this Gmail practice, but our preliminary look found no significant changes in reporting.
Marketers anticipated Gmail users wouldn't see promotional emails, but when analyzing last year's fourth quarter performance results, Yesmail found that user engagement over the past 90 days was the highest with Gmail (11 percent). Worries about the tab changes were unwarranted, and unless email marketers experienced deliverability issues with Gmail, they could treat their subscribers like the rest of their audience and keep their strategy the same.
It's not unlikely Google will continue making changes to its email service in the future. So far, the changes have worked to the advantage of marketers. Furthermore, growth in the number of subscribers (and active subscribers at that) shows no sign of slowing. Happy birthday, Gmail!
Michael Fisher is the president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing, a solution provider that brings together multichannel marketing platforms and data.
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