Much has been made of Google’s previous efforts to split the Gmail inbox into different tabs. In their first incarnation, messages were sorted into either Primary, Social, Updates or Promotions sections based on their content. Marketers’ reactions were varied, but there was a general consensus that being in the Promotions tab was the lesser option, compared to being in the Primary one.
However yesterday Gmail announced an innovation that may change all that.
Rolling out shortly, messages in the promotions tab will be displayed in a new Pinterest style grid, most importantly including a promotional image and a sender logo.
The new look has a few enhancements for marketers – the large image helps support your subject line and get users to open your email, and the brand logo helps add brand recognition and authenticity. This inbox has infinite scrolling, so older emails will continue to appear as the user scrolls down. The trade-off is that the preheader takes a back-seat in this view.
The promotional image can either be specified via the HTML in your email, or alternatively Gmail will look through your campaign and automatically pick an image to display. The sender image, in a cunning move, is pulled in from your brand’s verified Google+ page. Don’t have one of those but realise you should do? I suspect that’s partly the intention.
What other intentions might there be? well, apart from improving the experience for users, it’s quite telling that the first “email” on this screenshot is actually a Google ad:
So aside from subtly pushing Google+ towards marketers, in the longer term this also paves the way for things like the ability to +1 an email, or parts of its content.
If you have a Gmail account, you can sign up for the field trial here: g.co/gmailfieldtrial (though it looks like it’s being rolled out gradually).