Inbox Insider: Marketers should converse with consumers about e-mail prioritization

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The e-mail marketing industry is abuzz, discussing the impact of Google's launch of its “Priority Inbox” feature in Gmail.

I had an interesting chat with Melanie Attia, product marketing manager for Campaigner, an e-mail marketing service provider, about the subject. She emphasized that while Gmail — and Microsoft's Hotmail service, for that matter — is “moving toward facilitating the decision of what's important and what's not important,” marketers' communications strategies will be challenged by the developments.

“I think people will start looking in their spam and junk mail to find communications they want to see,” she said, noting marketers must converse with consumers as often as they think is necessary.

Attia explained that she is not sure if prioritization will stick — and she doesn't feel that the Internet service providers have predicted her needs very well.

“I have to train the system to make the decision,” she said. “Will I have the patience and will many [consumers] have the patience to actually train the system to filter for them? I don't know.”

I have to agree. The feature I like the most in Hotmail is the ability to delete, delete, delete from the “Unread” column. While I like the structure that Gmail offers, I can live without it — and I'm still trying to figure out why its system has prioritized what it has.

I also liked what Attia said about marketers going outside of their comfort zone and asking customers to prioritize their messages, therefore maintaining relationships with people who truly are interested.

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