Email is still acknowledged as one of the most effective media of promotion or marketing and even though it may be considered as a pretty tame and traditional medium, it still offers one of the greatest ROI as compared to other media. However, due to the sheer volume explosion that the emails are going through the scenario might be due for a big change soon. It is to combat the big volumes that Gmail’s increasingly smart algorithms have been filtering out the promotional mails from the primary tab on to the promotions tab.
What it means when your email lands in the Promotions Tab?
You are trying to promote your product, service, app, or website and send out emails that are beautifully designed to delight the would-be recipient but land up straight in the promotions tab. So what does it mean? It essentially means that the recipient won’t get the notification for your email and would have to consciously choose to go to the promotions tab and check your email.
When you really want your email to be noticed by the prospective or existing customers who are Gmail users, you should aim to land your email right in the primary tab. There are chances that the email would still not be opened which largely depends on your subject line and the relationship that you share with the account holder, but it will be in a space that is quite visible and not hidden or buried under a barrage of other promotional mails.
What do we do then?
What is it that we can do to reach the coveted and much valued Gmail primary tab and not be weeded out. Fortunately, through experience and many years of engagement in the area, we have managed to come up with some insights and some measures that are actionable and will help you improve your chances of breaking out of the promotions tab and land up easily in the Gmail Primary Tab.
1. Try not to sell out-rightly
This is quite simple actually, if you are selling in your email it is going to be considered promotional. The moment you try and sell out-rightly, your email is going to be considered a hardcore promotional email and you are going to end up in the promotions tab. When you draft the email or design it to be sent out, ensure that the prices or selling elements are kept to a minimum or avoid them completely.
2. Request the subscribers to “Drag” your emails to their Primary Tab
There are times when we tend to ignore the obvious. “Ask & You Shall Receive” is one of the suggestions that have often gone unnoticed. Sometimes all it takes for you is to request the subscribers to drag your emails to the primary tab and you’ll be surprised how often this is heeded. However, the timing of this request is crucial. It is a good idea to make this request right along with the welcome email. Waiting for a later opportune moment can be a problem, as you might already be clubbed with the rest of the promotional emails.
3. Make sure your domain is authenticated with DKIM and SPF
It is critical that you authenticate your domain for the delivery of your campaign. Authentication is much like a license plate for your emails. This provides a trackable identifier that proves to your subscriber’s internet service provider that you are a legitimate sender thus making it easy for your mails to end up in their inbox. There are two major types of authentication that need to be considered while sending the email:
- DKIM or DomainKeys Identified Mail
- SPF or Sender Policy Framework
When this authentication is not done, the senders name will be followed by “via service provider” in email clients. These standards are going to gain more importance as in the times to come ISPs and ESPs are going to be more stringent against spammers.
4. Make your emails valuable
The trouble is that most of us still consider emails as a medium of promotion. Though we are perfectly comfortable delivering value to the subscribers through channels like YouTube or blogs, rarely do we acknowledge the importance of emails in this regard. It is for this reason that emails are often disregarded by subscribers and then eventually ignored.
An email is an intimate space for a user and when you promise and deliver great value on this channel, something that is exclusively available to the subscribers, you are sure to get their attention. It is a good idea to deliver value for an initial 30 days before going ahead with any promotional material. Even as you promote later through emails, add some value in a way that would keep the user interested and you will have a higher open rate, lower complaints of spam, and they would be less likely to unsubscribe.
5. Give it a personal touch
An impersonal mail that is standardised to sound like a machine sending out mailers would not get you much. The personalization however does not just mean a “Hi ABC”, it is time to move beyond just using the name and get really personal. You can make the subject line more appealing by adding the subscriber’s name and some contextual data to it. In the mail body also, try and add content that is unique to your subscriber. The main intent of the email might be subject driven, but make sure there is some content that is personalized to suit the recipient in particular. Doing this would help Gmail see that the content sent out is fairly different and specialised, which improves the chances of the email ending up in the recipient’s Gmail primary tab. Apart from the obvious benefit of avoiding ending up in the promotions tab, the open rate of such emails is also higher.
6. Assume the traditional letter writing format
When you decide to write an email to a subscriber, do it in a way you would write to an acquaintance or to a friend. Writing the way, you would write a letter with an informal tone and content that appears to be directed to them, in person. Ask them how they are, as you would ask a friend in an email and go on to tell about yourself not in a sales pitch kind of a way, but in a manner, that would invite further conversation.
7. Limit the number of links in the email to one and no more
How many links on an average would you send out to a personal acquaintance? None or maybe sometimes just the one, if you are sharing some content that you would like them to go through. Why not emulate that habit even in an email that you would be sending out to your subscribers? It is a good idea to draft the email with just the one link that serves your purpose the best, instead of filling the mail up with a great number of links. Doing so will make it look less like a promotional mail and more like meaningful, valuable content send via email.
8. Avoid sounding like a spammer
The wording of your email right from the subject line is of great importance as it determines your value in a big way. Content as crass as “Want to make money fast?” would do well to make your mails land up in the promotions tab or even worse – in the spam folder. The content should be worded carefully to make it clear that there is value to what you are offering and that you are different from the millions of spammers who might be flooding the users’ inboxes.
9. Avoid including pictures
The design of your email including pictures, fancy detailing, and other kind of visual content makes your email look gorgeous! It’s true! However, it is also true that loading your mailers with images is probably not doing much for your intent to end up in the users’ primary tab. What happens here is that the pretty mailer that you so painstakingly designed might lie unopened, unnoticed in the promotions tab of the users’ Gmail account.
10. Avoid the RSS campaigns
It is convenient to use RSS for your campaigns instead of the more time taking manual typing out of the email. However, opting for this convenience might in fact lower your open rates. Gmail is intelligent enough to figure out that the email is actually an RSS feed shot out through an email service. The effort you took to manually type out the email would actually be rewarded when you land straight in the primary tab and experience a high open count.
11. Use your Gmail account to send emails
This is one of the most unusual tips, we confess. But it sure works like a charm. There are two effective ways of doing this. One of the options is to use mail merge with Gmail and Google Docs. However, this way only allows you to send a maximum of 500 emails in a day. The second way is to go for Gmail’s API. This way allows you to send high volume of emails from your Gmail account, with the rate of 6,000 an hour. Most of the marketers today are using email gateway services that are greatly efficient when it comes to delivering emails, but it is highly improbable that the mail would reach the Gmail Primary Tab.
When you send your mails through Gmail, it gives the reassurance that the mail has come from a reliable source and not a robot! In cases where an email marketing software is used by you to send out emails with your email address as the ‘From’ address, Gmail would always show a ‘via’ source right next to the sender’s email id. This doesn’t happen when you do it through Gmail, making the whole mail look a lot more personal and authentic.
12. Keep it short
This is a bit of an untested hypothesis, but in general long emails even from people we know tend to make us lose interest too soon. The capability of conveying all that you want to in a short and tightly formed text via email is much appreciated across all forms of media. A good communicator doesn’t drone on for long but gets to the point quickly, delivering value in the shortest possible time. A short email is more likely to be directed and placed in the primary tab of a Gmail inbox than a long one.
13. Request to be added to their address book
Again, the key thing here is to at least ask once. Even as you send out your welcome note or welcome email to your subscriber, request them to add your mail address to their address book or list of contacts on Gmail. This will ensure that you do not end up in the spam folder or in the promotions tab. Quite directly, it helps you attain your goal of visibility in your subscribers’ primary tab.
14. Avoid heavy HTML
A heavy HTML email looks nice and fancy, but also is quite impersonal. Would you ever get a pretty HTML mail from a friend who is writing to you? It’ll probably be a simple, plain text email. A heavy HTML mail will definitely land in the promotions tab. However, there is just one issue when you are sending out plain text emails, you have no way of figuring out the open rates without HTML. There is a midway to this that you can opt for – send out a basic light HTML mail that resembles a plain text email. With such emails you can track the open rates, maybe send an image or two, and even create anchor text links within your email.
15. Do not get into the habit of email blasts
Most of the marketers are in the habit of maintaining extensive subscribers lists and then blast an email to everyone on the list. This is a sure shot way to tag them up as promotional emails. There are some email marketing software that send the emails out in smaller bursts instead of doing so in one go. However, this too is not greatly effective.
The only other way for it to work is to trigger individual mails to each of the subscriber separately. This can be done by connecting the subscriber’s activity or interaction with you to an emailer. This is more transactional than promotion, but that is exactly why it works! Transactionalising your promotional messages will do wonders for you and help your chances of landing straight to the subscriber’s Gmail Primary Tab.
In the current times, email marketing is becoming overcrowded and thus leading to the consumers toning it out completely. At this juncture, it is important that we set ourselves apart from the rest of the crowd and deliver campaigns that are relevant, timed well, and have a distinctive personal touch.