There have been conversations bubbling up about new methodologies for determining inbox placement, especially as the structure of inboxes continues to change. Inbox providers are working to make the experience of engaging with email as interactive and desirable as possible. Their motivation, however, is not necessarily to better serve the customer. Rather, they want to keep subscribers within their environments as long as possible, to serve the advertiser.
Today, the “Promotions” tab in my Gmail account looks more like my Pinterest page — chock full of pictures — than the text-based email list that I am used to being greeted with. And it’s taking me quite some time to adjust to this new presentation. Now I’m hearing even more conversations about other inbox providers following a similar path. Once inboxes “look” different, what’s next?
Most interesting is talk about how email will be prioritized inside the inbox in future. Removing “tabs” from the conversation, today email is organized in the inbox in the order it was received. But there are forecasts that email placement will be driven in the future by engagement: brands that see more engagement from their subscribers will appear higher up in the inbox, regardless of the time the email was sent. What implications would a change like this have on mailers? Based on your engagement level, where would your company’s emails appear?
For quite some time, we have been talking about the importance of maintaining engagement with your subscriber base. But what if your ability to climb higher in the inbox than other brands was the reward for sending great emails, driving engagement and increasing satisfaction for your subscribers? Would it be worth the effort?
Engagement is a great leading indicator that can provide directional understanding of program performance and ultimately predict revenue. Unfortunately, many brands are still more concerned about the number of email addresses in their databases than they are with engagement.
While our industry still isn’t ready to rely solely on engagement metrics to determine inbox placement, the sheer possibility that this may be the way of the future is enough for marketers to take note now. If you aren’t monitoring engagement closely, and adjusting your sending behavior accordingly, you really should start. While I am playing the “what if” game in this post, the reality is that before you know it, engagement will be the one metric that matters most to ESPs and brands, especially if it helps you bubble up to the top of the inbox!
When you play the “what if” game, what do you see on the horizon of email marketing?