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2.9 billion. That’s the projected number of email users by the end of 2019 according to Statista.

And, according to the same report, 320 billion emails will be sent per day by the end of 2021 (the current number stands at 2.69 billion).

That’s a lot of emails.

320 billion emails will be sent per day by the end of 2021 (the current number stands at 2.69 billion).

Image Source: Statista

Bringing it closer to home, research by Radicati shows the average office worker receives 122 emails a day. For marketers, this means the competition is fierce.

To simplify inboxes, Google came up with a brilliant idea: dividing the Gmail inbox into 3 tabs. Gmail, by using powerful algorithms, compartmentalizes emails into primary, social, and promotional tabs.

As a marketer, your promotion email will often find itself in the promotion tab.

When Google introduced this system, many marketers feared their emails wouldn’t be seen. However, the opposite is actually true. Return Path studied 3 million Gmail users and discovered they actually use the promotions tabs. What’s more, this new tab improved promotional email deliverability and open rates while decreasing spam complaints.

To give you an edge in attracting your subscribers’ attention, Gmail has introduced annotations in the promotions tab.

Email annotation: What it is and why you should use it

Annotations are a way of highlighting your promotional emails in the promotions tab. According to Google, annotating your promotional email allows you to add key information like images, your logo, promo codes, expiration dates on deals, and a whole lot more.

annotating your promotional email allows you to add key information like images, your logo, promo codes, expiration dates on deals, and a whole lot more.

Image Source: Google

By doing this, you can bring your promotional email to life.

Email annotations are a way of helping you drive engagement with your subscribers, thereby leading to an increase in conversions. And annotating your promotional emails isn’t all that difficult, either. You can do it simply by adding JSON-LD code as a script tag in the head of your emails’ HTML.

One thing to note: Annotating your emails will not result in your promotion email magically landing in the primary tab of your subscriber’s Gmail account. If, however, your email is filtered into the primary tab, the annotations will not show. The annotations feature only works in the promotional tab.

While the annotations feature is great news for marketers, it also has another implication—fierce competition.

That’s why, if your promotional email is to perform well, you’ll have to learn how to optimize your email marketing for Gmail.

How to optimize for Gmail

With Gmail’s new annotation feature, you’ll be able to customize five elements. These include:

  • Image preview URL
  • Deal badge
  • Sender logo URL
  • Promo code
  • Expiration date

In order for your promotional email to stand out from the other mail in your subscriber’s promotion tab, you will have to optimize these elements.

Let’s take a look at how you can do just that.

Image preview

The image preview section, as the name suggests, is where you add zest to your annotation by adding an image. While you have various options when optimizing your email for Gmail, the image preview is a must if you really want to grab your customers’ attention.

Don’t neglect the image section. People are largely visual, and people’s actions can often be influenced by colors and graphics. When it comes to optimizing your promotional email, an image will immediately draw the reader’s eyes to your email. In fact, research has proved over and over again that images play a big role when it comes to increasing conversions.

So when you annotate promotional emails, make sure you include an image.

But to increase the chances of your email being opened, it could take more than a stock image. You will need to pick the right kind of images. Product images and lifestyle images have a reputation for performing particularly well when it comes to grabbing attention and inspiring action. Besides carefully picking the type of images you will use in your annotation, you’ll also need to choose quality images that represent your brand.

When it comes to image size, don’t worry much since images will automatically be center-cropped. And for your promotional emails to do well, avoid using the same image twice. Keep them your images and graphics fresh and new to have a greater impact.

Besides, your recipient sees the same image twice, they might disregard your email thinking it’s a duplicate.

Deal badge

The deal badge section allows you to highlight your promotions. For example, you can highlight your discount, free shipping, or any other promotion you’re running.

The deal badge section allows you to highlight your promotions. For example, you can highlight your discount, free shipping, or any other promotion you’re running.

Image Source: Google

In order to optimize this section, make sure to keep the message as simple as possible. There’s no character limit in the deal badge section. However, when the text space is full, your text will be truncated. And that means the impact of your message is reduced. 20% off (shown above) is a good example.

Using too much text in this area will reduce the impact of your subject line and could overwhelm your reader. That increases the risk of them being distracted and reduces the chance of them clicking into your email.

The best way to avoid cluttering your deal badge section is to avoid run-on sentences. Highlight your deal and leave it at that. No need to include other information like “while stocks last,” for example.

Another pro tip: As tempting as it may be, don’t use the deal badge as a call to action.

What is the one thing you should keep in mind when optimizing the deal badge area? Keep it as simple as possible.

Discount code

If you’re running a discount as your promotion, you’ll most likely have a discount code. The discount code area is where this information goes. And just as you did in the deal badge section, keep the code simple.

The shorter, the better. Short codes are ideal since there’s a risk of long codes being truncated. Besides, long codes discourage customers who are unsure about your product.

On the other hand, if your promotion doesn’t involve a discount, leave this section as is. Don’t try to repurpose it, especially since it will say, “code” before the text. This is even true when the text isn’t a code.

If you try to repurpose this section, you could confuse your customer and appear unprofessional to subscribers.

In short, use the discount code section for discount codes. Period.

Expiration date

The expiration date section does more than just alert your customer when your deal ends.

The expiration date section does more than alert your customer when your deal is ending.

Image Source: Google

If you’re running a promotion, an annotated promotion email can be very valuable to you, especially the expiration date feature. This feature affords your email 2 chances of appearing at the top. The first time is when you first send it, and the second time is when your deal has 3 days left before expiration.

In order to optimize this section of your annotated email for Gmail’s promotion tab:

  • Set your time zone
  • Include a starting time and the time your deal ends (in a 24-hour format)

Failure to do so will result in Google using its default settings. Depending on which part of the world you and your customers live, that may not be best for you.

According to Google, don’t leave an expired date in the annotation. This may cause the email to be treated like an old offer. In other words, it won’t populate into a bundle.

Logo URL

The logo URL is a great way of quickly letting your subscriber know who the email is from.

The logo URL is a great way of quickly letting your subscriber know who the email’s coming from.

The logo will only be seen in the email preview, but it does help make your email look professional and gain trust.

The only optimization tip for this section is this: Always use an https:// URL, as this proves your URL is secure.

Sending an annotated promotion email: Is it really worth it?

Email annotation is arguably the future of email marketing. Not only does this process help you drive engagement, but when done well, it’s bound to increase your deliverability, open rates, click-through-rates, and ultimately, your bottom line.

The best part about this process is its design. Annotation was created in a scalable fashion, which means you can easily add it to your promotion email templates or HTML. This allows you to add your annotated promotional email into your marketing campaign, strategically during the customer journey.

The result?

Meeting your goals. After all, email annotation is not strictly limited to deals and discounts.

Bottom line—optimizing for Gmail by annotating your emails is definitely worth it. And that’s especially true when you consider its cost: free.

Wrap up

Ready to conquer Gmail inboxes? The answer lies in an annotated promotion email and luckily for all of us, optimizing emails for Gmail isn’t that hard.

When done right, your customers won’t be able to resist your promotions.

If you want more tips on giving your email marketing strategy a power-up, here’s a guide on email marketing best practices.


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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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