How Gmail Changed the Delivery Game
Here's a look at how Gmail—and changes this ISP has introduced during the past year and a half—affects marketers:
Gmail Tabs: In mid-2013, Google introduced three tabs to the inbox: Primary, Social and Promotions. This threw marketers for a loop, because their emails would be relegated to the Promotions tab. This has been in place for more than a year and has had an impact on opens.
According to Return Path’s “Inbox Placement Benchmark Report 2014,” read rates for promotional messages in the Promotions tab reached close to 20 percent in 2014, compared to a read rate of almost 14 percent for promotional messages in the Primary tab.
MailChimp has noted that opens have dropped more than 1.5 percent as compared with other ISPs. The good news is there was no significant impact on clicks or unsubscribes. According to Litmus, approximately 4 percent of all email opens can be attributed to Gmail webmail users. For example, I have a Gmail account, but open most emails on my desktop or mobile.
Gmail Image Caching: This was introduced in December 2013. In simple terms, the first time someone opens your email in webmail, the images in the email are displayed. But, if opened a second time, Gmail has cached the email's images and then displays the cached images.
The good news is Google now automatically displays images—plus, marketers will get a better handle on unique opens. The bad news is you won't get total opens, only unique opens from Gmail.
Gmail Unsubscribe: In early 2014, Google announced a new, clearly marked "unsubscribe" link would appear at the top of the header in marketers' emails. The good news for marketers is with a clear unsubscribe listing, you're less likely to have spam complaints
Upcoming Gmail Inbox: This is in beta at the moment. Google will aggregate emails on a topic and aggregate them together. A simple example would be that I'm going to Italy and all my travel plans and itineraries will be displayed together.
Email delivery continues to change. My advice is to think about the issues raised and put a proactive plan in place. First off, analyze results by ISP and see if you have huge swings.