Gmail Tab Changes: Marketing’s Blessing In Disguise

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More and more businesses are moving to Gmail. But are marketers who want to connect with those business professionals keeping up?

At Cloud Sherpas, we know firsthand about the move to Gmail because we’ve been helping businesses large and small — from Shaw Industries and LXR Hotels to Design Within Reach and Enterasys — ditch their outdated Outlook and Exchange platforms and move to Google Apps, which includes Gmail, to benefit from a modern, secure, cloud-based email service.

In fact, as of last year, more than 425 million people were using Gmail, and, given the steady pace of business adoption, that number has no doubt increased significantly.

Gmail Refinements Increase Business Productivity

Google, of course, continues to refine Gmail, especially for these new business users. Earlier this year, for example, Google introduced Gmail inbox tab and category label changes, which filter any inbound marketing campaign emails into a “promotions” tab. Google says this tab contains a user’s “deals, offers and other promotional emails.” In short order, the number of Gmail emails being opened fell by 18% after the introduction of tabs.

From a business standpoint, that’s great news: thanks to one user interface change, employees no longer have to review one out of every five emails. That’s a productivity enhancement you can literally measure in hours saved per employee, per week.

From a marketing standpoint, however, the update was received differently. Google’s change caused a ripple in some direct marketing circles, with some marketers asking: “How dare they keep our emails away from people?”

Marketers Who Decry Tabs Miss The Point

But you know what? Today, everyone and their brother can blast millions of people at once using ExactTarget or Marketo. And if everyone is focused on that strategy, wouldn’t you be better off adding something else to the mix, such as sending them a great piece of mail or even picking up the phone, so that you stand out?

Marketing Requires Personalized Communications

In fact, the Gmail changes will force marketers to be more personalized with their communications, starting with sending handcrafted messages that aren’t automated. And that’s good news for marketers, because it will further separate the people who know what they’re doing from those who don’t.

For example, I only get about two calls per week on my desk telephone from people trying to sell me something compared with what seems like 14,000 emails to my inbox. Memo to salespeople: What’s stopping you from picking up the phone?

Sharpen Your Social Savvy

Here at Cloud Sherpas, we’re also seeing more businesses — especially ones that rely on B2B sales — investigating the Marketing Cloud from salesforce.com to ensure that they can connect with customers not just via email, but also via all available forms of social media. Simply put, businesses that aren’t tapping Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to their full advantage are missing out on a powerful and cost-effective technique for connecting with customers.

Effective Salespeople Master Relationships

Whatever the tools you have at your disposal, however, the bigger takeaway is that no matter the medium, innovative salespeople will always win out. In the past, of course, success for many was predicated in no small part based on marketing automation proficiency.

Now, however, businesses increasingly need salespeople who can go beyond that and create handcrafted messages — and build high-quality business relationships — that attract and retain clients. Businesses that do so won’t have to worry about their emails getting automatically routed to the equivalent of a promotions tabs, if not manually routed to the desktop trash box by recipients.

That’s why Google’s Gmail changes are a blessing in disguise for marketers. Now pick up that phone and break out the fountain pen.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user by Scott Cresswell.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

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