Can Gmail’s New Tab Layout Affect Ecommerce Merchants?

Consumers have many choices for email services. The top 3 suppliers are Gmail, Yahoo!, and Hotmail, which recently changed to Outlook. Sometimes these solutions make changes that may impact ecommerce programs. The changes are often lively — altering rules, algorithms, and user interfaces. So it’s crucial to track any changes that may affect your organization.

If you market to consumers, the majority of the email addresses in your database are probably with one of these three domains. When any of these changes significantly, it may severely affect your email program.

Gmail Introduces New Tab Layout

Lately, Gmail introduced a new design for its users. Rather than having the traditional inbox along with a spam or junk folder for everything else, it’s divided the inbox into various tabs, presumably to classify incoming email. Here’s a list of the newest tabs out there.

  • Primary. This is reserved for private contacts — i.e., email from those in your address book or other private communications.
  • Social. This tab filters automatic updates from social networking sites, like if someone tags a photo of you in Facebook, or follows you on Twitter. All those notifications will get put in this folder.
  • Promotions. This is where all the email promotions and notifications from businesses which people subscribe to will get filtered.

The end result is an inbox that resembles the next.

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Gmail sample.

Effect of the Gmail Change

As this is just being embraced by Gmail users, it is tough to say whether it is going to be positive, negative, or neutral for ecommerce merchants.

  • Negative implications. Users can, over time, look at the Promotions tab less often than the key tab. This will probably lead to a decrease in open and click rates for many emails sent by ecommerce merchants. If users do look at this email less frequently, timely offerings and deadline-oriented campaigns will have to be carefully weighed by ecommerce merchants, as Gmail recipients may take more time to check at their Promotions tabs. Also, there can be increased competition. Though your email is sitting in a folder along with other promotions and offers, subject lines and provides will need to be more attractive to be noticed.

    Additionally, triggered and transactional emails are at high risk with this new tab design. These mails are highly effective for ecommerce professionals since they’re timely and relevant. In actuality, most abandoned shopping cart emails delivered within the first couple of hours following the abandonment have the highest return on investment. If these messages appear in the Promotions tab, it may decrease the efficacy of these triggered programs, and the revenue they create.

  • Google ads. Another problem with this new shift is Google putting its ads on peak of the Promotions tab and making them appear to be valid emails. The ads appear above each the actual email that the subscriber receives. This pushes the real down emails, and customers may get annoyed with these advertisements with time and assess their promotions folder much less.
  • Positive implications. The new change may have a positive impact, too. First, by providing users the ability to filter the way they want their email to exhibit in their tabs, the messages that they genuinely want will go into the Promotions tab without being sent to the dreaded junk or spam box. For those truly engaged clients, conversion rates will probably be higher because they have taken the time to find your message from the Promotions folder.

    Furthermore, promotional emails might have an increased”shelf life” as a receiver may return to that email weeks later to do it. Open and click rates may take more time to enroll, so an email’s effectiveness might not be as readily apparent.

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Overall the effects of the Gmail shift is unknown until more people start using it. Meanwhile, analyze the proportion of your current database that are Gmail users. Start to benchmark open, click, and conversion rates on these users today to compare over time, after.

If metrics begin to fall for your Gmail users, develop another strategy to deal with these changes.