Are Gmail Tabs Really Pinching Groupon’s Email? And What About Yours?

3 years ago by in Email Marketing, Mobile Tagged: , ,

Mini me

Mini me

It has been a few months since the rollout of Gmail Inbox Tabs. Many brands (especially ecommerce ones) have been loudly wondering how Gmail Tabs would affect their email channel. And now this Thursday Groupon actually may have blamed Gmail Tabs for their email performance decline:

Mr. Lefkofsky said in an interview Thursday that Google Inc.’s change to its popular Gmail service putting promotional email in separate folders had dented the effectiveness of some coupon mailings.

Now, I’m not a stock analyst, but email is near and dear to my heart, so when it starts moving markets, my curiosity gets piqued. Groupon may indeed have SIX BILLION reasons to blame its email decline on Google. But let’s take a look at how Gmail Tabs are actually affecting YOUR brand’s email.

What percentage of your email base is using Gmail?

If you are a brand or an ecommerce company, these days 30%-40% of your base is probably using Gmail.

Has there been a documented drop in email open rates since the Gmail Tabs rollout?

Yes, indeed – a few industry players like MailChimp have done studies that show a “small but definite” drop in open rates and have made recommendations on how to encourage your customers to move your promotional emails to the Primary tab.

Enter Mobile

At the same time, there’s another, much bigger trend on the rise this year – Mobile Email. Based on a recent report from Movable Ink, 61% of email opens are already happening on a smartphone or tablet for brand emails. According to Litmus research, the number is even higher:

Gmail on iphone vs native ios

Gmail on iphone

A whopping 66% of Gmail opens occur on mobile devices,
The #1 email client for Gmail users is the iPhone’s built-in mail program, with 34% of all Gmail opens

Note the dominance of the iPhone Mail app and the conspicuous absence of Gmail Tabs from it.

Some mobile tips for ecommerce retailers:

Clearly, what will affect the performance of your email campaigns the most going forward (especially for Gmail) is whether your email is optimized for mobile. So here are some tips on what you can do to improve your mobile email performance:

    Optimize your subject line: keep it short. For mobile, you have 26 characters
    Design your email for “easy to tap” experience: use buttons and plenty of white space
    Use either Responsive or Scalable coding practices
    Make your landing page mobile friendly

So if your email performance is declining, Gmail Tabs are probably not the big culprit. The rapid changes in how consumers are reading email are causing a significant shift in what is effective. Make sure your email channel stays ahead of the changes. And, Groupon – how about some bigger buttons for mobile email?

Katya Constantine is a seasoned online marketer with over 11 years of experience. She has developed a uniquely comprehensive background in email and omni-channel marketing for large online brands. Most recently, she was at Expedia and Amazon, leading projects ranging from behavior-based programs to increasing customer acquisition and conversion with great results. Katya has successfully worked to bridge mobile, email, search and social channels to increase online performance at many large web properties and ecommerce startups. Presently, Katya is the CEO of DigiShopGirl Media. She is also a marketing mentor for technology startups via Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator program and an active blogger/speaker on topics ranging from mobile email to effects of the visual web on online marketing. You can follow Katya on Twitter @digishopgirl