You’ve developed a killer email marketing campaign, spent hours on hours developing that sweet creative, just finished your third round of quality assurance, and you can’t wait for it to drop into your subscribers’ inboxes. After all that work… what if those emails never land in those inboxes? Unfortunately, that’s a very plausible scenario in today’s ISP (internet service provider) landscape.
Like it or not, email deliverability can make or break your brand’s email marketing strategy. And now that Google is in the driver’s seat, it’s critical to understand how Gmail is changing the rules of the game in email marketing.
Gmail accounts for 1 in 3 inboxes
Gmail has rapidly expanded its user base. In a recent study, Yes Lifecycle Marketing (my employer) found that 30 percent of email subscribers use Gmail, a significant jump from 17 percent of subscribers four years ago.
There are a lot of reasons Gmail gained popularity with subscribers so quickly, and it all starts with the user experience. By developing a highly intuitive user experience, Google raised expectations and set a new standard for ISPs.
Gmail also gives users substantial storage and integration with Google Drive, Calendar and other tools. And with more and more users consuming email on mobile, it doesn’t hurt that the Gmail app comes pre-loaded on Android devices.
Combined, Gmail, AOL, Hotmail/Outlook and Yahoo comprise two-thirds of your subscribers. But of the four largest ISPs, Gmail is the only one that is growing its user base — and it’s taking more and more users away from the other ISPs every day. For email marketers, that means they need to understand Gmail deliverability standards to stay relevant.
From a marketing perspective, Gmail is a mixed bag. One the one hand, Gmail’s user experience and other innovations have made the channel more subscriber-friendly and appealing as a vehicle for brand interactions. But at the same time, Gmail brings a new set of inboxing criteria to the table — criteria that can create serious challenges for marketers.
Here’s what you need to know about Gmail and how it can affect your next email marketing campaign:
1. Gmail, while great, is still limiting marketers’ creative efforts
Gmail has been around for more than a decade. Even so, marketers are still struggling to utilize certain tactics within it and work through its nuances. There are a bunch of great articles that dive deeper into the technical specifics for Gmail (as there are a lot), in particular. Email on Acid has a great FAQ HTML coding article that is a consistent reference point for my team and me, if you want to dig deeper. For now, I’ll stick to the few points I think impact marketers most.