Personalized search and the future of search and email marketing

Google recently announced that it would begin testing the integration of Gmail messages into search results for users logged into their Google account. From searching for contacts to flight itineraries to past purchases and promotions; the enhancement is poised to give users faster and more personalized access to what they’re searching for, including what they may have discussed or archived in their own inbox. While the change is still in the testing phase, there are several things brands and performance marketers should start thinking about:

Percentage of database impacted: A good place to start is finding out how many Gmail users are in a brand’s current database. This will give an idea how much impact the enhancement may have on future campaigns.

Preview proposed changes: The test is open to a million subscribers, so find out if any employees or people in your network have signed up for the enhancement test to get a glimpse of the new interface while it’s in testing. If you are able to do some test searches, find out how your online content and current email marketing campaigns perform.

Optimizing for search and email marketing: SEO strategies of future email marketing campaigns may need to be adjusted. With a new potential result for Gmail users versus non-Gmail users, brands may need to segment lists differently to maximize both the effectiveness of the email campaign and its search performance. For instance, the subject line may become even more important, as it will now compete with search results in capturing a user’s attention beyond the inbox. There may be additional impact resulting from the recent announcement from Microsoft that Hotmail users are moving to Outlook. Expect Microsoft to provide the same email search integration with Bing should the Gmail experiment prove successful. 

Increased Mobile Consumption:  One possible benefit of this enhancement will be the mobile search experience.  People aren’t used to accessing their email archives via their smart phones because to do so requires tedious use of the browser. With the search experience centralized in one place, it will presumably be faster and easier to find things while on the go. Marketers may need to adjust their email marketing strategies accordingly to accommodate increased mobile consumption.

It may be too early to tell how the test phase will go, but it’s never too early to anticipate the potential business challenges and considerations of such a move. Google has demonstrated that the future of search will be more personalized and contextual, and brands and performance marketers will need to stay tuned.

About the Author: Nick Papagiannis is director of interactive/search for independent marketing and communications firm Cramer-Krasselt.

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