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.