New Gmail Changes Reinforce Engagement Importance

Google has announced a new round of changes and updates to Gmail that could have a significant impact on marketers. The first is an extension of an existing feature, the extension of the list-unsubscribe functionality to the Gmail app on Android. The second change is new and potentially much more disruptive. Gmail has added a “block sender” button to the web app and soon the mobile app.

Let’s take a look at the list-unsubscribe extension arriving on the mobile app. A quick refresher on the list-unsubscribe process. Gmail created a virtual feedback loop by embedding an unsubscribe link and making that option clear to the recipient. This has been a positive experience as a whole to senders, who have been able to allow people who want to opt-out, a trusted option to do so. This has been around for a while, and hasn’t caused any major issues. If one of your customers wants to opt-out, going out with an unsubscribe is the preferred way to let them go. You even get a click which counts toward positive engagement on the way out!

The big change here is obviously the block sender button.

Here’s what Gmail says in their blog about the intent of the block button: “Sometimes you get mail from someone who’s really disruptive. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often—but when it does, you should be able to say, “Never see messages from this person again.” The good news is that this isn’t a big huge blinking button. The block sender option is contained within a menu, so it’s something you at least have to look for the first time. When a recipient clicks the option, it sends all future messages from the sender to the spam folder.

You can look at these changes in two ways. You can accept and understand the change, and begin to make program adjustments to deal with the evolution, or you can try to find a way around the change. We still hear from senders on occasion who incorrectly think there is a way to “beat” the Gmail tab system. Gmail has had real success with user acceptance in the recent past when it comes to Gmail. We expect this to be a feature that Gmail customers like and will stay around.

What’s the right strategy for Gmail?

Engagement becomes even more important than ever at Gmail. You must look at last engagement activity as the important metric to track this development. There isn’t a notification that’s generated when you are put on the block sender list. If you have a customer on Gmail with a steady open and click history, and then that pattern just stops – this is a prime example of an address you may have lost to the block sender button. This development only reinforces that sending to addresses that aren’t opening and clicking is a very bad idea.

Tighten up those lists to eliminate, or greatly reduce the mail you send to non-engaged recipients. Pay close attention to the customer who had a history of opens, but one day it just stops. You should have regular reengagement programs running for just this scenario. If they have blocked you, then your filters will phase out these addresses as you go along.

Email marketing is just one part of an overall cross-channel marketing strategy. The bottom line is regardless of channel, consumers and prospects have more refined appetites for marketing and higher expectations. They expect and desire more than a generic product experience—they want to feel an affinity for their investment and attraction to a brand.

Download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Cross-Channel Marketing for tips to not only meet, but surpass those pressing customer expectations.

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