DeliverabilityList management

Engagement – Now More Important Than Ever!

By September 1, 2010 3 Comments

Gmail has just announced that it’s rolling out a new “priority inbox” feature that adds new filtering features to your inbox – highlighting emails into three categories that include “Important & Unread”, “Starred” and “Everything else”. It’s primarily based on your reading patterns (in addition to the usual sender reputation and content filtering) and improves over time as Gmail follows your reading behaviour. They even made a cute video to explain what it’s all about.

While every one of us who lives with a daily onslaught of hundreds of emails ranging from “That’s the email I was waiting for!”  to “Super – someone hit reply-all again about the office potluck”  is excited about this new feature that might make our digital day-to-day easier, we are left wondering – what does this mean for email marketing? Will it now be even harder for marketers to get to the inbox at Gmail? What can you do to ensure your campaigns hit the priority inbox?

Most of these are exercises in being a better email marketer in general, but here are a few things you can do to give your campaign a shot at making it to the top of the list:

  1. Write engaging, compelling content
    ISPs are starting to look at engagement now more than ever, so the first step is sending an email your readers actually want to read! Since priority inbox is based on reading behaviours, if your subscribers consistently open your emails and spend time reading them and clicking links, the likelihood that you’ll hit their priority inbox or be “starred” to read later is much higher.
  2. Use a real From address
    See our recent post about why using a noreply@ email address is ridiculous for more details, but the general rule of thumb here is to actually encourage readers to send YOU feedback by responding to YOUR email. Communicating with your customers one on one will add you to their Address book and increase the likelihood that your next campaign will get where it’s supposed to. At the very least, you should encourage readers to add you to their Address book or Contact list by including something in each mailing – whether they are sending you feedback or not.
  3. “Star for Later”
    Add a “star this email to read it later” call to action in the pre-header of your email for users reading messages in Gmail.

Engagement and “Contact List” or “Address Book” status are more important now that ever before – and not just for Gmail. Hotmail also gives its users the ability to show only emails from people in your Contact List with the click of a button and it is only a matter of time before other ISPs follow suit. To read more on Hotmail’s new “Sweep” feature, click here.

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Author Kevin Huxham

More posts by Kevin Huxham

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Do you know ifGmail’s priority inbox is stricter (in terms of what is received) for new accounts? Or do they model new accounts as completely unfiltered and as the user begins to showcase reading patterns the filters change?

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  • Kevin says:

    Hi Justin,

    That is an excellent question. Gmail’s new Priority Inbox is still in BETA testing, which means it is not enabled by default (even for brand new accounts) and it is still being perfected. Gmail uses their existing spam filtering solution to sort your email into 1 of the 3 categories as best they can, but like every spam filter it can sometimes make mistakes, which is why this new system is so clever. It will effectively sit on your shoulder observing what you read/open/delete/click/etc. and adjust itself accordingly. I wouldn’t call it “stricter” but more of an “untailored” version of the original. 🙂

    Thanks for reading!

    Kevin

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  • […] is nothing new – it’s actually been around for a while (we’ve mentioned it a few times here, and here) – but ISPs have only recently started making delivery decisions based on this kind […]

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