Inbox by Gmail was launched by Google way back in October 2014, through a private invitation system. Invites were the hot ticket. And it wasn’t just Gmail users who were keen to get their hands on an invite, but email marketers were desperate to see what their emails looked like in this new email client.
By the end of May 2015, Google announced the product officially open to anyone with a Gmail account. Google has made several changes to Inbox by Gmail in terms of how users interact with their emails. Which, you guessed it, can impact your email marketing campaigns.
For this post, we partnered with Jaina Mistry to bring you everything you need to know when creating campaigns for Inbox by Gmail.
Let’s start with what we know about Inbox by Gmail
No support for media queries
Much like Gmail, Inbox by Gmail does not support media queries. At the moment. Who knows when or if it will support media queries. In the meantime, design your emails with mobile in mind. Either by implementing a hybrid approach or simply sticking to single column emails, with large, finger-friendly click-through buttons and avoid a font size smaller than 14px.
Get verified on G+
While Google+ is seen as the runt of the litter among social media platforms, the only way you’ll be able to have a profile image displayed next to your sender name is with a verified Google+ account. Without a verified Google+ profile page your profile image will be the first letter of your sender name. It’s a great idea to get this done so your emails stand out in the inbox, look more legit and it helps with ensuring a solid branding experience for subscribers across different mediums.
Use a consistent sender name
With bundles activated on Inbox by Gmail, the first part of your email campaign that your subscriber will see in Inbox by Gmail is the sender name. Ensure this is relevant, recognizable and consistent. It may be tempting to change your sender name to perhaps get more attention, but this may confuse subscribers. Imagine if you started to give yourself multiple names and expected your friends and family to keep up! Keeping a consistent sender name will make sure your subscribers will always recognize your emails by the sender name alone when it’s bundled with other emails.
Optimize your subject lines and preheader text
Along with keeping a consistent sender name, optimizing your subject lines and preheader text should be one of your top priorities when considering Inbox by Gmail. Next to the subject line, like Gmail, Inbox by Gmail displays one line of preheader text. Use this space wisely to entice your subscriber into opening your emails.
Essentially, don’t neglect the basics of email marketing when considering creating campaigns with Inbox by Gmail in mind. Perfect your subject line and preheader text combos and keep that sender name consistent and recognizable.
At the beginning of May 2016, the Google team added some new functionality to Inbox by Gmail. Along with the ability to save links to the email client and streamlining how events are shown in Inbox by Gmail, they also introduced Glanceable Newsletters.
Glanceable Newsletters in Inbox by Gmail show a preview of the links in your newsletter, along with some images, and links to your previous newsletters. Your subscribers will no longer have to open your emails in order to click-through the content.
This feature isn’t something totally new for Inbox by Gmail. The Highlights feature works in a very similar way, for emails containing order confirmations or flight bookings. All the key information for these emails is displayed and you can interact with them, without even opening them.
Let’s take a look at an example:
When an email that’s glanceable arrives in Inbox by Gmail, the full subject line or preheader text won’t be shown and there will be a bulleted list of three articles in the email. So remember to have a consistent and recognizable sender name.
(Glanceable newsletters don’t show the full subject line nor the preheader text, and the bulleted content pieces disappear)
When you click on any part of the message, including the articles, the email will be expanded. You’ll see the three articles that you previously saw in the bulleted list, as well as one more.
To access the email which features the articles in the featured section, subscribers have to go to the related items just below it and select the email they want to open.
Currently, it looks like the Glanceable Newsletter functionality is catered more towards digest type emails which have a set structure to them, rather than marketing emails which are more design led.
It’s not all bad news with Glanceable Newsletters
These developments may seem a little disconcerting but one of the positives about Glanceable Newsletters is that the links in your newsletters are instantly accessible to subscribers, without them having to open the email. While this could lead to a decline in open rates from subscribers using Inbox by Gmail, you could see an increase in click-through rates.
With this in mind, you may have to reconsider your main success indicators for your email marketing campaigns. With the ability to click on email content without opening the email, your open rate may be less important as one of the main key success indicators. So, create article headlines with the click-through in mind – think of them as calls to actions that need to drive subscribers to your site.
Not all emails are Glanceable
You can breathe a sigh of relief, Glanceable Newsletters aren’t currently active on all email newsletters. Currently, there’s only a small group of senders whose emails are being made “glanceable”. Over at TechCrunch, a Google spokesperson revealed that the Glanceable feature only works with some of the more popular newsletters and the team will continue to add more over time.
At the moment, it doesn’t look like you can opt-in or opt-out of being a Glanceable Newsletter. And there’s no way of telling Inbox by Gmail which content to include in the glanceable areas. As this feature develops, we’ll keep you updated on anything that might potentially affect your email campaigns.
Do my subscribers use Inbox by Gmail?
Right now, there’s no way to tell which users are using Gmail and which are using Inbox by Gmail. Other than app download numbers, which can be slightly inaccurate, there’s no clear number. You’re likely to have some Inbox by Gmail users. The biggest change to email in Inbox by Gmail is the Glanceable Newsletter feature, which hasn’t rolled out to all emails, so no need to worry about it too much. Plus this feature looks like it’s catered more towards email newsletters whose content is more article based, rather than your typical marketing email.
The main takeaway is to carry on creating relevant and engaging emails for your subscribers. Stay consistent with your sender name. Write interesting subject lines combined with preheader text that further pique the interest of your subscribers. Value your customers by delivering them content they will value. By sticking with email marketing best practices you should ensure your emails still stand out in Inbox by Gmail.