Inbox by Gmail has now closed. This blog refers to Inbox by Gmail before it closed its inbox in 2019.
Inbox by Gmail was launched in 2014 and Google has adding various new features and usability upgrades ever since. The app has cast its net wider too and is no longer just available for @gmail.com addresses. The app is changing email reading behaviours, making content searchability easier and bundling related content together.
The latest move by Google sees Inbox adding new functionality updates, including preview content for newsletters, link saving and event tracking. Here’s how the latest updates to Inbox by Gmail affect email marketers:
Inbox will now show preview content from email newsletters, allowing users to click through to linked content and articles from within the newsletters without opening the email.
This is effectively an extension to the Highlights feature already available to Inbox users, which allows them to interact with email content and track or modify bookings or purchases details without opening emails.
This might prompt alarm bells for email marketers, as open rates are going to be directly impacted by these updates. However, the feature highlights key content from newsletters, promotes multiple headlines and encourages direct clickthroughs to articles.
Enchant CEO and Founder Philip Storey had this to say about the updates:
"Although Google haven't released any details on how to implement this yet, it's important that marketers start to consider how to utilise this functionality and the impact it'll have on the customer experience. As glanceable newsletters in Inbox by Gmail become the norm, metrics to measure the success of email marketing will change dramatically. For example, many email marketers still focus on open rates as an important metric. However, this particular metric will continue to become less relevant if the email content is being displayed and consumed without any action from the recipient beyond browsing their inbox."
Preview content and related items
Essentially, what email marketers need to be aware of with this glanceable newsletter functionality is the way email newsletter content will be presented to Inbox users. As the images show, Inbox pulls out preview content from the newsletters as headlines, with only the newsletter title shown at the top – not the subject header of the email. Older newsletters from the sender will show at the bottom of the feed as "related items".
Initially this glanceable newsletter feature is only working on popular email newsletters, from the likes of Medium, Tech Crunch and Digg. However, Google will continue to add more to this new functionality over time.
Our tips for future use
For when the glanceable newsletter functionality starts working with your newsletters, you need to be fully prepared. You must have a strong and recognisable from name, as the functionality doesn’t show the subject line, just the newsletter name.
You will also need to make sure you have in place all the images you want to be shown. Google+ profile pictures are pulled through as newsletter sender images, whilst articles that are shown in preview are accompanied by images. If you don’t have images with your articles to be pulled through, generic or broken image icons will appear.
A key benefit of glanceable newsletters is that articles within your newsletter are instantly clickable to subscribers on receipt of your email. So optimizing your content is crucial. Create article headlines with click-throughs in mind and make the opening of your articles succinct and catchy, as this preview text will help drive users to your content. The functionality currently shows up to four articles from email newsletters and if you have more than that you won’t have control over which will be previewed.
Link saving and event tracking
Beyond the updates to email newsletters, Inbox have added smart features to save links and track event activity more efficiently. It's a common trend for people to send themselves emails with links to articles or interesting online content that they want to read in more detail later. The new “Save to Inbox” makes this process extremely simple and groups them together.
The event tracking feature is a neat way of keeping up with changes and activity on Google Calendar events. Inbox pulls emails together from an event to keep you updated in an easy-to-manage form.
Google and Inbox by Gmail are constantly changing the way people view, use and store their email content. Email marketers need to keep up with the pace of the ever-changing behaviours of consumers and technology. Be aware of the restrictions and the opportunities that the changes to email content functionality present.
Inbox by Gmail has been in open beta for some time, with many seeing it as the Gmail 2.0. This means that Inbox is here to stay, as the new email client of choice at Google.
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Enchant is a leading UK digital marketing agency, based in London. We specialise in email marketing, CRM and inbound marketing, helping brands to reach their full potential with customer-centric strategies. Contact our email marketing consultants and see how we can help you improve your marketing performance fast!