Google's 'Priority Inbox': 4 things to know

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This week Google revealed its Priority Inbox. It's great in theory, but it's based on algorithms having to do with replies, not abstract decision-making. So what does that really mean for e-mail marketing programs, where people opt in, read and incorporate into their daily lives but do not respond?

No need to panic. Overall, as e-mail programs like Gmail give users more control over how their e-mail is classified, marketers are tasked with consistently delivering material that customers will want to open and read. Though no two customers are the same (e.g., I might love getting daily coupons from a store, while you may find that a nuisance), the bottom line is that e-mails that are relevant and valuable have the best chance of being a priority read for your customers.

Here are four key ways to keep your e-mail campaigns in the Priority Inbox:

Remember the Big R — Relevance: Relevance has always been a golden rule when it comes to e-mail marketing. If you aren't providing relevant information, your customers simply aren't going to open your e-mail. Want to make sure customers with Gmail accounts mark your e-mails as “priority?” Provide them with relevant information they will want to read. It's really that simple.

Analyze your results with every campaign: Reporting tools can give you a sense of open rates, click-through statistics and other results. Now more than ever you will need to watch these statistics. If you notice a difference, you may need to re-examine your campaign.

Ask your customers: In my mind, any new obstacle also presents an opportunity, and Priority Inbox is no different. Use this as a chance to reach out to your customer base and ask them what they'd like to see in your campaigns and how often they want to hear from you. Incorporating their feedback into future e-mail marketing efforts means that you're more likely to be classified as a “priority e-mail” with customers using Gmail.

Make it easy to opt in: Once people are on your site, make it as easy as possible to opt in by having a very visible link on the home page, and on every other Web page(s). Signing up should take as little time as possible, so don't ask for too much information at this point and make sure your form is above the fold (the first screenful when your Web page first loads).

Mélanie Attia is the product marketing manager for Campaigner E-mail Marketing, an e-mail marketing services firm.

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