Jay Baer on what to do about Gmail’s tabs: Send stuff people want

The ever-level-headed Jay Baer has his take on Gmail’s tabs. His main message is 1.) Don’t panic — Gmail on the desktop is a tiny portion of emails read and 2.) If people really want your content, they’ll find a way to get it, regardless of Gmails tabs. Create stuff your recipients actually want, in other words.

He also includes in his post What To Do About Gmail Tabs a link to an ExactTarget report (register for access) that breaks down the issue with some interesting stats. I’m not going to spill the beans on ExactTarget’s details in their report, but let’s just say, there’s no need to panic — the impact, so far, seems minimal.

At least that’s their take on it. Nothing here addresses, however, one of my main objections, which is the arbitrary nature of how Google has decided to discriminate “Primary” from “Promotion.” If there’s not much impact from all of this, then this really isn’t much of an issue.

I’m still undecided and think we need more data. As I’ve mentioned before though, this isn’t as much of an issue for B2B as it is B2C.

I think the long-run result may actually be good for marketers. It will ensure that those engaging in email practices go further than before in ensuring opt-in is not only confirmed, but maybe even … customized. I’ll post my thoughts on that soon.

Marketers turn to instructing how to disable Gmail tabs

Blackboard with writing

Photo Credit: Lee Nachtigal via Compfight cc

As I mentioned in my last post, Gmail’s new default tabs for inboxes pose a significant new hurdle for marketers. By putting “Promotion” in its own default tab to the right, it immediately segregates some emails from the “Primary.”

That’s already a headache — but the bigger problem is that the distinction between “Primary” and “Promotion” seems pretty damn arbitrary.

For marketers in the business-to-consumer realm, who might have many Gmail addresses in their email mailing lists, this can be a real problem.

Marketers turn to direct appeal

Marketers are already trying to spread the word to users on how to get their emails to display in the “Primary” tab. I subscribe to uber-marketing guy Chris Brogan’s email and yesterday I got one of his emails, with this subject line: “If you’re a GMAIL user, you might be missing our letters”.

The email links to this video by Social Media Examiner’s Michael Stelzner, How to disable Gmail tabs.” The short video shows how to move emails over to the Primary tab from the Promotion tab.

Stelzner’s video is good – but he also missed a simple fix. Simply go into the tab settings (by clicking the plus sign on the far right of the tabs) and simply uncheck/unselect “Promotions” — this puts everything in the Primary tab.

Google bites the hand

And to harp on my main point: Google’s new tabs are making life hard for marketers — and marketers are the ones shoveling huge dump trucks of cash into Google.

It’s hard to keep this in mind, but to people outside the marketing biz, Google is just this big “free” service with all these great goodies they dispense for free to everyone. Most people are only vaguely aware of how much money Google brings in from advertisers. (Last quarter, ended June 30th, Google took in $14 BILLION in revenue — up nearly 20 percent from the same quarter last year).

Maybe Google is doing the right thing — by focusing on the what the end user wants, it’s really doing a service for marketers.

This would be true … IF Gmail’s algorithm or whatever made a proper distinction between “Primary” and “Promotion” — which in my experience was way, way off — not even close. So now marketers like Brogan and Stelzner (and anyone else in the B-to-C realm) are in the unenviable position of asking Gmail users to “unhide” their emails.



Gmail’s new tabs: A new hurdle for marketers

When the new Gmail tabs appeared in my inbox, I first found it interesting. Yes, I know news was out there months ago about a big change coming to Gmail but honestly — feh — I don’t read many articles about exciting new changes to mail programs (yawn). Also, my Gmail is not my business email account.

However, as soon as I started using the tabs, I immediately noticed Gmail was doing a horrible, horrible job distinguishing between what was “Promotion” and what belonged in “Primary.” In fact, it was nonsensical. I could not spot the logic Gmail was using.

Here’s what occurred to me though: Glad I’m not in the business-to-consumer email marketing biz (I’m in business-to-business marketing) because Gmail just threw a huge roadblock in their way. To people outside the marketing business, they may not have recognized the importance of this and its implications.

You see, Google makes billions and ka-billions of dollars off of … marketers. Who do you think writes all the checks for AdWords campaigns and advertisements?

It’s kind of like this: Let’s say newspapers decided to take all the display ads (all the ads that run next to news stories) and put them in a separate insert. And label that separate insert “Useless Non-News Crap.”

What do you think the advertisers would say? And if you’re thinking “well the subscribers pay for the paper” – you’d be only partially correct. Subscriptions account for only a portion of newspaper budgets (in most cases). Advertisers make up the bulk of the income. In other words, marketers are Google’s and Gmail’s true clients/customers.

By introducing tabs that make a distinction (and an erroneous one) between “Primary” and “Promotion” they’ve devalued some marketers’ efforts. When the default is “Primary” what you are doing to “Promotion” is to make it optional viewing. You are making it much harder for that message to get through to the customer. You are making it harder to even see that email – let alone have any potential interest to be opened.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: “But I hate all those ads and promotions in my inbox.” Well … are you not aware of unsubscribe links? These are MANDATORY in all legitimate email marketing due to the CAN-SPAM Act. It’s federal law. It’s easy to unsubscribe — in one click.

People like me, for instance, don’t have a single email come in that I didn’t approve of. I unsubscribe quickly to any I don’t. Yes, I knew when I gave my email over to Johnston & Murphy I would get “promotion” about shoe sales. I don’t care that I’m not shopping there every month (though I wish I did); the point is I’ll pay attention when I want to buy a new pair — and yes that may be because of a sale I wasn’t aware of.

Luckily – you can edit and remove the new inbox tabs easily. But … they still appeared as a default. Thanks nanny Google.

I also find something else disturbing in this: If Google can in this instance effectively screw over the ones writing them checks for tons of money, what’s next? As a former business journalist, I can tell you one of the sure signs of a company’s decline is a company culture that no longer values the customers who write the checks and pay the bills. I’ve seen companies divest themselves from income streams from loyal customers just because the company lost interest and wanted to strike out into new and unproven territory.

In other words, they gave their loyal customers the finger so they could stroke their egos. When companies forget who is paying the bills (and for all the cushy offices, executive compensation in the multimillions, etc), it’s time to reconsider their worth.