Google rolled out its Promotions folder for Gmail users in May and I’ve been using this feature for about six weeks. The new functionality sorts your email and deposits those dreaded announcements and unwanted newsletters in one central Promotions folder. You have the option to review them at your leisure or ignore them altogether.
Important long-term implications for >425M Gmail users. Why is this important? Gmail is the email system of choice for entrepreneurs and small business owners—and there are lots of them—more than 425M Gmail users. If users have to go to a separate folder to find your newsletter, the potential negative impact on open rates is obvious.
Okay–time for a little market research. I examined the reports for five clients for whom I produce newsletters, comparing the open rates for July, (pre-Promotions folder) and August (post-Promotions folder).
- Client #1, an electrical contractor in Oakland: 30 > 35%
- Client #2 , a chiropractor: 38.77 > 41.44%
- Client #3, another chiropractor: 32.04 > 33.01%
- Client #4, a business coach: 33.6 < 30.7%
- Client #5, Solano Symphony: 47.06 > 52.69%
The results of my research surprised—and delighted me. Only one newsletter showed a decrease in open rates, but it still weighed in with a robust 30% open rate.
Clearly, people are still reading our newsletters. I’m going to take some credit for this—we are working hard to keep these lively with well-written, timely articles and lots of images.
Keep in mind that the Promotions folder—for now, anyway—is a Gmail product. Who knows if other email providers will adopt this functionality or better yet, if newsletter companies will find ways to circumvent the Promotions folder–this could get interesting—there’s a lot at stake.
You do have the ability to opt out of the Promotion folder feature, but I wanted to give it a try. My impressions? It does cut down on the unwanted emails, but I find that I’m missing a lot of communications. For me, there’s a bigger moral issue. I don’t think Gmail should be deciding how or what I receive. I’m opting back in and looking forward to that old familiar deluge.
Ask us about writing and producing newsletters that get read! It’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing!