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Earlier this week, TheOutnet.com sent an email blast to customers with the subject line, "We aren't ignoring you, promise!" The email was a response to Google Mail's recent inbox update.
The new Gmail inbox automatically filters bulk mail—including marketing emails, like The Outnet's sale updates—out of the primary inbox and into a new "Promotions" tab, effectively hiding them from view.
The Outnet, which is a discount fashion apparel and accessories site operated by luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter, explains it like this:
If you feel like you haven't heard from us lately, it may be due to recent Gmail/Google Mail changes. The email provider now automatically categorizes your mail, so emails from THE OUTNET may be hiding within the Promotions tab.
A representative from Google told us the changes to the inbox are designed to help Gmail users deal with the what can be an overwhelming volume of email. As she put it, "Gmail's new inbox is designed to help you manage email overload and take back control of your inbox."
From a brand perspective, that's not necessarily a good thing. Brands rely on marketing emails to drive traffic and sales. They want you to see their emails.
The Outnet declined to comment on whether their sales or open rates have been affected by the new inbox format, but their response to the change indicates that in the era of digital commerce, it is increasingly crucial for retailers to work with Google. "We notified [customers] of recent changes to Gmail settings so they don't miss a thing," an Outnet representative told us.
Other retailers are taking a similarly proactive approach. Gilt.com, a flash sale site that sends daily sale updates to customers, told us that they want to work with Google rather than combat the changes. "We have been in conversations with Google to determine the best ways to educate our members regarding the changes to the email system and we are continuing to encourage feedback as well," Elizabeth Francis, Chief Marketing Officer of Gilt.com, told Racked via email.
We got a tutorial from the Google team on how to work the new system, and it's actually very easy. The "Promotions" tab will automatically collect all the bulk mail sent your way—including sale updates from brands like The Outnet and Gilt, your daily Racked newsletter, and other things of that nature. If you know you want all emails from a certain sender to show up in your primary inbox, just drag and drop an email from that sender from the promotions tab to your primary inbox. Then click "yes" when asked whether you want future emails from that sender to go to your primary inbox. (You can also watch the video above for additional user tips.)
Also, we're curious: What do you think of the new inbox format? Is is helping you unbury from too many marketing emails, or are you having trouble finding the emails you actually want? Speak your mind in the comments.
· A new inbox that puts you back in control [Official Gmail Blog]