Proposed Gmail Changes Might Benefit Marketers

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A new and simpler revise of the Gmail inbox surfaces, and experts like what they see: less text, more images, less distraction.

An elegant new look for Gmail?
An elegant new look for Gmail?

Hard on the heels of its tabularization of email, Google is testing a simplified design for Gmail. As was not the case with Tabs, however, email marketing experts think the change could be a good one for their clients.

Screenshots of the new design leaked in a blog published on TNW yesterday showed a cleaner, simplified inbox in which the stars normally appearing to the left of emails are replaced by color images. Pushpins on the right side of the box take the place of stars. A new menu appears on the lower right of the page that presents actions such as composing emails or setting reminders.

Simple is good, says SVP of Epsilon's Strategic Initiatives Group Quinn Jalli, who was of the opinion that nothing good could come of Gmail Tabs for email marketers. “What we're starting to see is what we should expect from Gmail,” he says. “This is more user-friendly because consumers make decisions on a visual basis.”

Jalli believes that the emergence of mobile into a dominant position in email is what's behind Google's proposed alterations. Epsilon tallies show that more than 50% of opens by users are taking place on mobile devices.

“Last year we saw a 33% increase in mobile opens and this year it's running north of 40%. We're seeing it happen across all clients and all verticals,” Jalli says. “The simplifications in this new Gmail inbox will require fewer clicks on the part of users. It's less text heavy. From a marketer's perspective, there's much less distraction, and distraction is the marketer's worst enemy.”

Brad Van Der Woerd had the same reaction. “If the rumors and designs we've seen are any indication,” says YesMail's director of marketing intelligence and deliverability, “the new layout would put a greater focus on email itself instead of everything else we see on the Gmail screen now: calendars, Google Hangouts, folders, Google+, and tools.”

As if it wasn't always crucial, the subject line becomes even more important in this rendition of Gmail, according to Van Der Woerd. “You don't want your email getting lost in the mix, so it should be clear who the email is from, why they're receiving it, and why they should open it,” he says.

Should this iteration of Gmail become reality, Jalli claims that few, if any, adjustments will need to be made by emailers—if they're already mastering the basics, that is. “This wouldn't require any change,” says Jalli, “just the need to be smart.”

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